Tuesday, June 30, 2009

easy orange sherbet

1. whisk together 3/4 c. thawed OJ concentrate, 2 1/2 c. whole milk, 2 T. sugar, 1 t. vanilla (all organic for me!)
2. swirl around in the ice cream maker for about 30 minutes
3. transfer to a bowl, cover, and freeze for a few hours
4. YUM. (tastes like a creamsicle)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ice Cream Monday?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Fun, Week 1

Here's a recap of our first week of surprise activities...
{Yet another camera-free week. I promise to suck it up and get a new one soon.}

Monday (in the kitchen):
Rainbow cookies; Packaged & shared with friends.
Tuesday (field trip):
Bowling: Chloe- 64; Chayse- 62; Camden- 52 (she threw in the towel by frame 8); Mommy- too embarrassed to post score.
Wednesday (get crafty):
I had a spare large canvas lying around, so I set the {naked} kids loose with lots of bright acrylic paint and no limits. They spent literally hours creating. They each even stamped it with footprints. (Camden actually dipped her feet in pink paint and ran across it a few times.) It will eventually go over our bed.
Thursday (family fun):
The kids drew one of the two papers in the bin that promised a sibling shopping spree downtown. Shopping spree, meaning a budget of $5.00 each, spread out between 3 stores: book store, toy store, & candy shop. (With the option of saving and adding to the next shopping trip.) This was challenging and fun.
First up- the book store. Chayse immediately went for the $4.95 toy jet, the first thing he laid eyes on. After careful browsing, Chloe settled on a chapter book for $3.99. Camden wasn't interested in anything in the $5 and under range. The big kids checked out, leaving 5 cents for Chayse, and $1.01 for Chloe.
On to the toy store. Chloe was determined to spend a little at each of the three shops, but just couldn't find anything worthy at the toy store. Chayse proceeded to ask me "does this cost 5 cents?" over and over, out of luck each time. Camden was excited to find a watercolor set for $4.34.
Walking to the candy shop was where the three really put their heads together. I warned Chayse that 5 cents might not get him much candy, but that we'd do our best. That's when Chloe stepped in and decided combining the total amount of change (making $1.73) to get one big bag of candy, then dividing it up evenly between them would be fair. Lots of scooping and three trips to the candy scale later, they were set. Jelly beans, sour balls, candy hearts, and m&ms. Every penny spent. Every kid happy. Teamwork!
Friday (wet & wild):
Splish-splashing & a picnic at one of our local water parks (not as in rides water parks, but actual parks with cool water features). Free, wet fun!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

two hoots

Yesterday, we had another visit from Tegan and Mason. He was such a good little model for the clover onesie,
I had to make him another.
{this time with his owl-adoring mom in mind}

Plus this little friend to match.
{inspired by this Joy's Hope post}

hoot! hoot!

BlogLuxe Awards

Look at all of these great nominees for the BlogLuxe Award! You can vote once per category, per day, until July 6th; then they will determine two winners from the top 5 highest vote-getters in each of the categories.

{The award is totally just for fun- but still. Vote for your blog friends here!}

Best Eye Candy Blog:
*Pampering Beki
*whatever (SO close to grabbing a spot in the top 5!)

Most Inspiring Blog:
*A Woman in her Thirties
*Joy's Hope
*Mama Manifesto
*NieNie Dialogues
*The Macs

Blog You've Learned the Most From:
*Joy's Hope

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cookie Monday

Insiped by this cake, today we had fun with food coloring, making rainbow sugar cookies. We used a basic sugar cookie dough, divided it into six bowls, and colored away. Then we packaged groups of six cookies- one of each color- to deliver to friends.
***

We're changing it up a bit for the summer. Instead of just plain "Cookie" Mondays, each of the next eight Mondays will be a new adventure in the kitchen for the kids. We're talking homemade ice cream and hand tossed pizza (Meg's rainbow cake may even make an appearance!).

In fact, each day of the week- ALL SUMMER LONG- is devoted to a special category of activities. With both big kids out of school, I wanted to fill our days full of {mostly free} fun, in addition to swimming & soccer. We have a big galvanized bin of little color-coded folded papers. Each paper contains an activity pertaining to its corresponding day.

MONDAY is 'in the kitchen' day.
TUESDAY is 'field trip' day.
WEDNESDAY is 'get crafty' day.
THURSDAY is 'family fun' day.
FRIDAY is 'wet & wild' day.

Each night the kids will blindly draw an activity from the bin, pin it to our big summer calendar, and have something to look forward to doing the next day as they fall asleep.

Tomorrow is bowling.

Happy Summer!

Father's Day Festivites

Celebrating DADDY.
It has become a tradition to host Father's Day brunch at our house. Yesterday we had Kevin's awesome dad and grandpa, in addition to Uncle Bobby, Uncle Ryan, and Auntie Amanda. On the menu was maple sausage egg strata (my favorite breakfast dish ever), spicy veggie egg strata, country potatoes, cinnamon coffee cake, and a fruit tart with fresh farmer's market berries. We had Bloody Mary and Mimosa stations, also made with farm-fresh produce. The kids made Kevin a good-luck bracelet from hemp string & wooden beads. He tears up every time he looks at it. Guests went home with homemade organic strawberry-peach jam. It was my second adventure in canning, and I loved the turnout even better than my caramel apple butter.

Later, it was off to Amanda's for a yummy BBQ.

We capped off the night with softball and lots of candy from the snack shop. Kevin played his best game ever, and Bobby and Ryan were great, too. Kevin says it's all thanks to the bracelet. I can't think of anyone more deserving of a perfect day than him.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Best Dad Ever.

Friday, June 19, 2009

courage, confidence, & character

Celebrating the first two years of helping to build awesome characteristics! These girls are going places.
Yay for my Brownies!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

bon voyage!

Well, the top is done! It's ready to be sent off for professional long arm machine quilting, then back to me for binding. I'm a little nervous about shipping my baby across the United States. Cross your fingers!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Harrison!

It's so hard to believe my little brother, Harrison- the baby of the family, turned 18 over the weekend! 18 years ago, we had no idea of the journey we were about to embark on with this special addition to our family.

At just a few months of age Harrison was diagnosed with Williams syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder, caused by a certain deletion of genetic material. He was set back even further, developmentally, due to a long period of frequent infantile spasms (baby seizures), causing brain damage.

Growing up with a disabled brother was an experience like no other. It was truly eye-opening, challenging, but above all character-building, to have a special person like Harrison in our lives. Characteristically, Williams syndrome individuals have sweet, friendly personalities, which couldn't be more true in his case. Harrison is the happiest guy we know, and his unconditional love for his sisters, obsessions with pipe cleaners and pugs, and appreciation of a good knock-knock joke (among many other crazy quirks), far outweigh the fact that he'll never meet most "normal" developmental milestones. What does normal really mean anyway?

Well, for Harrison, it was approaching the microphone at his high school graduation two weeks ago, and delighting the crowd with a few of those famous knock-knock jokes. In that crowd, of course, a very proud and tearful family.

To learn more about Williams syndrome, please visit the
Williams Syndrome Association's website.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

quilting progress

Here's a little update on the quilt.
I have two rows of six 12" blocks sewn together.
Hope to finish the other four rows tonight,
for a total of six rows of six,
just in time for tomorrow's week 5 instructions!
Whew!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

wow!

How's this for good news?!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Everyday Dinner

Do you have this cookbook yet? If you love Martha's little Everyday Food magazines, you'll LOVE this compilation of quick, easy, and affordable everyday recipes. One of my very favorites from the book is this chicken and polenta dish, with a few adaptions.

First, I usually bake the chicken (rather than sauteing) and add it to the mushroom mixture before serving. I also substitute balsamic vinegar for the wine, and add a sliced onion when sauteing the mushrooms. I could really eat caramelized onions on just about anything. As for the polenta, I add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese with the milk and butter at the end, and omit the marjoram.

A recipe should really just be a guideline, allowing for plenty of flexibility according to individual taste! Creamy polenta- a whole grain- by the way, is a great substitute for mashed potatoes! Throw in a side of steamed broccoli, and you can't beat this healthy Everyday Food dinner.

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms
(serves 4)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 ounces each)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound white mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced 1/2-inch-thick
4 garlic cloves, halved
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high. Add chicken, and cook until light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; set aside.
Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet.

2. Add mushrooms and garlic, and season with salt. Cover; and cook over medium heat until mushrooms release their juices, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove lid. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Add wine, and cook, stirring, until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add broth and parsley, cook over medium-high heat until mushrooms are tender and liquid is reduced, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Return chicken to skillet. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve chicken topped with mushrooms, and drizzled with cooking liquid. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Oven-Baked Creamy Polenta

3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In an ovenproof saucepan with a lid, whisk together 3 cups water, cornmeal, salt, and pepper. Cover, and bake 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

2. Remove from oven, and add milk, butter, and marjoram; whisk briskly until smooth. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Good Times Tuesday

Two years ago, today...
we finally gave in.

In loving memory of running my fingers through that thick (well... thinning), black hair!

{yep, that's me in my bathrobe.}

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cookie Monday

Chayse had a field trip to the zoo today. I had every intention of making animal cookies, with these cool cutters, while discussing his animal adventures after school.

I was on such a roll sewing my strips, and cutting my blocks, that the kids kindly reminded me of our plan by strategically placing the box of cookie cutters on the kitchen counter.

And yet...

Lot's of quilting.

Very little baking.

Enter these three little ingredients...

plus Daddy at the BBQ!

Not a bad substitute.

The elephants and lions can wait until next week.

Summer is here!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Celebrating "the creative gene."

Two weeks ago today, my hugely inspirational grandma- Jacquie- passed away, at 75. Her obituary in the San Diego Union Tribune can be read here.

Yesterday we honored 'Grannie', celebrating her incredible creativity and influence on so many. During her service, my mom, sisters, and I had the opportunity to share some memorable moments.


MOM:
I grew up with a mom that was different than all the other moms on the block. I was often frustrated by her differences. As a kid I wanted to blend in-be the same as the other kids- definitely not stand out! I wanted so badly to be like the neighbors. The colors in my house were not average. Purple, red, orange... and, oh yeah, the yellow and black period! Unlike the neighbors, our Christmas tree was always color coordinated- all of the ornaments matching. I would cringe when friends would stay for dinner. Who knew what tonight's creative concoction might be?!
As kids, we weren't allowed to have coloring books. My mom wanted our art to be our own- not confined within lines. We finger painted with chocolate pudding, ketchup, and mustard. We built things from wood scraps that she picked up from a cabinet maker. We painted on the wall on the side of our house; my mom thought that it was a "fabulous canvas." We grew up in a creative playground, complete with a pottery wheel. Our childhood years were happy and fun.

As I grew up, I began to realize that I was picking up many of my mom's creative quirks; my frustration turning to the conclusion that the quirkiness was special. After I became a mom, I wanted to expose my kids to the same creative opportunities I had, substituting every day household objects for art and activities. Suddenly, I appreciated how great my childhood really was, and how lucky my kids were to have such a fun and influential grandma.

HANNAH:
An outing with Grannie may have entailed feeding the ducks popcorn crumbs, complete with matching umbrellas and rain boots for the whole group, even if only on a PARTLY cloudy day. But the real fun was always in HER outfits. Bold, bright, and often handmade. Wearing two different colored shoes was normal for her: one lime green; one purple!

HEATHER:
Trips to Grannie's house meant enjoying her famous jell-o knox blox; tossing ice cubes from the porch, into the fountain below; and above all, experiencing the magic of her arts & crafts rooms.
She was certainly no ordinary grandmother. No, a granddaughter might expect to receive something pink and knitted as a baby shower gift from her grandma. But lo and behold- pregnant with Camden- my shower guests were shocked when the signature bright ribbon-wrapped package from Grannie contained something pink and LACEY... in the form of thong underwear! Because "a pair of fresh underwear is what every new mom REALLY needs." Grannie was thrilled to become a great-grandma, or "Grannie Great," as she enthusiastically dubbed herself.

HOLLY:
Yes, we were aware of Grannie's appreciation of good undergarments all too well. She took advantage of her two granddaughters working at one of her favorite department stores- Nordstrom- by phoning in her lingerie, cosmetics, and jewelry orders frequently.
One thing we looked forward to every year was the Christmas advent box that appeared on our front porch every December 1st. Each night, a new treasure unwrapped. Would it be a single package of microwave popcorn? Or maybe a new pencil sharpener? Always predictable, but a tradition my sisters and I loved even into adulthood.

HEATHER:

We couldn't have possibly asked for better qualities in a grandma. As we stand here in our matching red sneakers, it is obvious that Grannie's creativity and quirkiness will live on in our family forever. With every vibrant scrap of fabric I use to sew coordinating outfits and bows for my girls... or as I remind them of the simple art of painting the sidewalk with a brushes & a bucket of water... or as I encourage them to go ahead and wear two different colored shoes to school... Grannie will be with us. With each perfect table setting; each strategically placed Christmas ornament... she will be there. A legacy I will be proud to pass on to my three kids.

MOM:
As I became a grandma- my mom a great-grandmother- it became more and more clear that being curse with "the creative gene" was indeed a blessing. There is no doubt that each and every one in this room has, too, been inspired by the artistic legacy of my mom. Jacquie wasn't just a creative person, she was driven to create. To teach. To touch. What a gift to the world.

Following the service, we were greeted by the festive Mariachi band- Grannie's one requirement for her memorial- who escorted us to the church courtyard for a colorful celebration, that captured the very essence of Jacquie. Many guests proudly sported her handmade clothes and accessories. The mood was cheerful. The food was fabulous. As Grannie would have undoubtedly put it- it was just a 'GRAND' party!

Friday, June 5, 2009

quilt along!

Thanks to Julie, last week I discovered this quilt along by Old Red Barn Co., and without hesitation jumped {for joy} on board! I had been searching for the perfect quilt tutorial, and so far, this is it! It is a step-by-step, six-week process.

Kevin, of course is just thrilled at the notion that it will be that much longer until the day we can actually eat at the sewing dining table.

Here are the first few steps of my progress!

[note: camera is sadly out of commission, so these shots are courtesy of the cell phone.]

{Heather Bailey prints in turquoise, greens, and yellows will be so perfect in our living room!}

It's not too late to join the fun!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kathie!

It was so much fun planning this little
surprise party for you!
We appreciate all you do...
Looking forward to lots more summer fun in the pool!
xoxoxo

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Tegan!

{Truly an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, genuine FRIEND.}

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

please tell me.


who wouldn't want to win this?!


i am such a sucker for awesome photography, and nothin' beats blue lily.


seriously.


i'm winning.

like Mary,

"...it is OK to do something other than coo and dote on your kids all day long."


Please check out the rest of this perfectly worded,
must-read post by Crystal at Little Bit Funky.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cookie Monday

If you loved the classic Oatmeal Cream Pie as a kid, you MUST try this homemade grown-up version, from a 2004 issue of Cottage Living. My only input would be to make extra cream filling and pile 'em high! My batch is
already gone, and I can hardly wait to make more!