Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Summer Portraits Layout

Here are some layouts I just finished. The first layout is Zoe's 7th Birthday portraits. I can't believe I have a 7-year old.

And here are both girls together, looking all sweet and lovable. Right after these pictures were snapped, they dropped to the ground and tore into each other.

Well, not really, but it sounds more exciting that way.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Halloween Costumes . . . Watch Out

This is Thing 2 last year for Halloween. It was her second time being a witch. She just really likes witches, I guess.

She makes a pretty cute witch too. At least in my opinion, and I know I'm a little biased here.

Thing 1 was a pirate last year. That was one scary knife. Sword. Whatever. What is that?

Last year was the first year they got to choose their costumes all by themselves. I cannot tell you how hard that was for me. It's all Peanut Head's fault too, because we were all together at Target and he asked the girls what they wanted to be for Halloween.

Can you believe that?!!!!

I cleared my throat and whispered to him, "Um, we're not doing that yet. I pick them." He just looked at me like I was speaking Russian and continued searching through the costumes.

I couldn't very well make a scene though, because then everyone would be looking at me and thinking "Scary Mommy doesn't let her kids pick out their own costumes." So I dug deep, real deep, and went with it. Grudgingly.

First I had to get over the fact that Thing 2 was going to be a witch again and that would make my Halloween album look redundant. Seriously, this is how I think.

Then Thing 1 had to go and pick a pirate costume. I admit, she is cute as a pirate since she had no front teeth then, but it was not the costume I would have chosen for her.

So this picture is titled "The Year the Kids Had a Say."

You all know that I'm a bit of a control freak, so you won't be surprised when you hear my confession.

I actually kinda already bought their costumes for this year. Without them.

Thing 1 is scorching mad at me.

Apparently she wanted to be Hannah Montana. Yeah, well this ain't the Best of Both Worlds, Sister Girl. This is my world Hannah baby, so go and sing that song somewhere else.

Ha, ha, no really, I actually don't have a real problem with Hannah Montana and her two songs. I'm sure we're going to have at least 242 Hannah Montanas at our elementary school alone. I really don't know why I'm not excited about Thing 1 being Hannah. I mean she's not like Britney Spears or anything. I'll have to ponder this.

In the meantime, I'm hoping I can talk her into the way cute scarecrow costume for this year, but I'm thinking if I get that lucky, I'm never going to get away with it again.

Tomorrow she's probably going to want to pick out her own clothes too. Dang it. She has her father's fashion sense and color issues, so I don't know how this is going to pan out.

What kind of costume is she going to want to wear when she's a teenager?

Geez, have you seen the selection of costumes they have for adult females? I feel like I'm shopping in a lingerie store, the costumes are so trashy. Am I alone here, or has anyone else noticed this?

What kind of message are we sending to our young girls with the costumes that are available to them? It's depressing. I think what's most scary is that clearly women are buying these types of costumes because there wouldn't be so many of them if they weren't.

What's a parent to do? CPS frowns on parents locking their kids in closets until they're 25. And dang it, I would never get away with that because my mom works for CPS.

Stop reading my blog, Mom. The kids are FINE.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Triple Chocolate Pudding Pie with (or Without) Cappuccino Cream

Look at this, will you? You know you want this. I know you want this.

This is the richest, best, most unbelievable chocolate pie I've ever tasted. I feel obligated to warn you though, it's not the least bit light.

I had to stop eating halfway through my first piece to slow down the frantic rush of endorphins to my brain. That, and to pace myself.

Chocolate is my happy food, and this pie is gooooood.

I found this recipe in my July 2003 issue of Bon Appetit. Yes, I'm a little behind on my magazine pile.

Here's a recipe card for you.

Make this pie and you'll have a great day on account of the big endorphin party going on in your brain.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Oh, What Monsters We Have Created

This just happened.  Thing 2 is trying diligently to tape some toys together while Thing 1 is hysterically squawking at her.

Thing 2 looks up and deadpan, so like her father, says "Go Away." No hysteria.  Just "Go Away." Thing 1 squawks some more and Thing 2 says, exasperated, "Just let me focus."

My advice to you is this.  Watch what you say.  Little pitchers have big ears and all that.  It's true and it will probably come back to bite you on the butt.


Today I want to share a book with you that I learned about when I was in the Teaching Credential Program.  In this program, I had a professor who, like me, had a children's book fetish. This professor introduced me to lots of excellent books that, of course, I just had to have.  You could say that said professor enabled me to further rationalize my buying of children's books when a) I didn't have any kids yet, and b) I was planning on teaching middle school.

Here's a little peek at my bulging children's book collection.

I'm the first to admit that I have a problem.  However, we're not here to talk about that today, are we?  I want to tell you about this book, Fortunately by Remy Charlip.

Here's a little peek at what the book is like:

one day, Ned got a letter that said,
"Please Come to a Surprise Party."

But unfortunately
the party was in Florida
and he was in New York.

a friend loaned him an airplane.

the motor exploded.

there was a parachute in the airplane.

there was a hole in the parachute.

there was a haystack on the ground.

there was a pitchfork in the haystack.

he missed the pitchfork.

he missed the haystack.

Now that I've plagiarized half the book, I'm sure you get the idea.  

This is the kind of book that children can really get involved in, trying to anticipate what will happen next.  It also allows them to stretch their imaginations by coming up with more fortunately/unfortunately possibilities.

My favorite lesson to do with this book is for elementary age students.  You simply tell them that they're going to write and publish their own Fortunately book.  It's a model that's relatively easy for children to follow, while allowing endless variations.

It's fun for them to tell a story with the fortunately/unfortunately viewpoint each step along the way.  They can base their book on a story in their life that actually happened, with embellishments, of course.  Or, they could come up with an entirely fictional story only limited by their imaginations.  It's a fun activity to do with kids that results in an enjoying read for adults.

Another nifty idea that I love, I got off of the Barnes & Noble website.  It's to have kids use this model when writing book reports.  This would take some of the tedium out of the whole book report process, don't you think?  

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pumpkin Topiary

I've been seeing different variations of this pumpkin topiary lately, and I decided that I wanted one for myself.

I had the hardest time finding this urn style pot. This isn't the time of year to go pot shopping, but I finally found this one at Lowes.

I bought the faux pumpkins at Michael's along with the 5/8 inch dowel and the assorted fall foliage. I had to drill holes in the pumpkins to connect them. Man, was that messy.

Then my dowel was a tinsy bit too long so I had to attack it with this hack saw. Is that what this is called? I think Peanut Head got his kicks watching me do this. I couldn't get a rhythm going and I earned every millimeter. When I was finally at the end, he asked me (with a chuckle in his voice) "Do you want some help, honey?" What a little snot he is.

I did it! The sad part is that the easy part is over now. I didn't really know what I was doing with all the foliage and I went a little crazy with the glue gun. I burnt myself with the glue gun so many times that I lost count.

The problem with hot glue is that a) it's sticky and b) it's dang hot. Not a good combination.

Anyway, I plodded along and TA-DA!

I'm just hoping none of this stuff pops off with the first frost. I don't want a repeat of the pine cone incident.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Procrastination Challenge Completed!

Remember that Procrastination Challenge I entered over at Virtually Organized?

Well . . . . I DID IT! Whoo Ha!

My Procrastination Challenge was to paint my front door. Here's my BEFORE picture.

And AFTER . . .

I'm glad to see that my new wreath didn't totally disappear into my front door. Although I do think it popped much better on the green. Oh well, I'm not doin' it again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Renaissance Woman

This is my friend and fellow cropping buddy, Renee, aka The Renaissance Woman. This is her Scary Look.

Renee cannot stand to have her picture taken so she was shooting daggers at me.  I told her I needed a picture for this post, but somehow, that wasn't good enough for her.

Right after I took these pictures I became violently ill and took to my bed for two weeks.

Never cross R.W.

I call Renee The Renaissance Woman because she knows things.  Obscure things.  Her background is in Speech, Art History, and Drama.  These are the areas, that I'm aware of, that she's formally trained in.  I wouldn't be surprised if she had a few PhDs tucked in her drawers as well.  Currently she teaches drama in middle school, but she could do anything for employment because she knows how to do everything.

Renee is the life of the party. The focal point in the room. She's larger than life.  You can't carry on a conversation with her without feeling intensely observed.  Her eye contact is pointed and piercing.

Her enunciation is flawless.  She has an opinion on everything and she's not afraid to share it. You can always count on her to give you an honest answer, and she knows how to be tactful when the subject is delicate.

When people meet her and then find out that she's a drama teacher, they always exclaim "Ah ha!"  Never once has anyone ever said "Really?"

Ever since Renee started coming to my house on Saturday nights, she has always sat in the wooden chair that faces out into the room.  It has become her spot.

She doesn't want her back to anyone and she wants to be able to see all exits at all times.  This little quirk makes me suspicious that she's really a gunslinger. Like she has the long gunslinger coat and everything. 

Renee is very particular about her chair and her set-up for cropping. Every week when she gets here, she lays out all of her scrapbooking paraphernalia, makes sure the kleenex box is right in front of her, and she goes looking for my tall metal, umbrella stand turned trash can.

She walks around, focused, and exclaiming "WHERE IS MY TRASH CAN?!!"

When it's an all-day crop and I have paper bags taped to the tables for trash, she rips hers off and says "I don't need this! WHERE IS MY TRASH CAN?!"

One time I said to her, "You know Renee, the other six and half days that you aren't here, it's MY trash can."  She just gave me the look and carried the trash can back to her spot. 

Yep, you guessed it.  I was mysteriously and suddenly ill again

It's because of this trash can searching frenzy that no one will sit in her chair.  It doesn't matter what time Renee arrives, her chair is always waiting for her.

One time a new girl, Jennifer, came to crop and sat down in Renee's chair.  Smashley looked at her and said "I don't think you want to sit in that chair.  Renee always sits there and she's pretty particular about her spot."

So poor Jennifer got up and moved.  Then when Renee got there and started on her trash can hunt, I saw Jennifer wipe some sweat off her brow.  I think she was a little relieved that she heeded Smash's advice.

Oh look, Renee is smiling now.

Renee is also a very good friend.  She's fiercely loyal.  To a fault.  When it comes to her friends, she's a mother hen and she would do anything for them.  

On the other hand, if you're not her friend, it's not a good idea to tick her off because she knows how to hold a grudge. And she's stubborn. Don't ever tell her what to do.  She's equipped to make her own decisions and she doesn't need any help, thank you very much.

Oops, I think I might have some of these qualities too. That must have something to do with how well we get along.

Oh crap, she looks like she's getting ready to go gunslinger on me again.  I think I'll go take my temperature now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Peanut Head!

Happy Birthday Peanut Head!  We hope you have a great day!

Even though you're getting on in years, you're still just a big kid at heart.

A big kid with a mushy heart since you became a Daddy for the first time.

And Mr. Fix-It and Put it Together ever since.

And Mr. Works A Lot, although you still have time to humor your girls who love you so much.

This one has you wrapped especially tight around her little finger.

This one can do it herself, thank you, but she wants you to be there for the hugs and love.

We love that you take the time to teach us new things.

We hope you have a great day because we love you so much!

Why I Blog

Laurie over at Tip Junkie came up with this topic for Talk to Me Tuesday, and I couldn't resist writing about it.

I've been reading other people's blogs for over a year now, and I've wanted to start one of my own, but I thought I would have to learn how to make my own web page, get a domain name, and start strategizing ways to place myself in search engines, blah, blah, blah.

I even went so far as to take a class on creating web pages.  Although I did learn a lot in that class, I also learned how much I didn't know and I think that scared me.

So, I had been reading other people's blogs and wishing I had an outlet for sharing all my creative energy and organizing and OCD tendencies, etc., but not knowing how I was going to go about doing it.  

Then Janae came over one day and told me that she started a blog and how easy it was.  What?! There are templates for these things?  And they're free?  And anyone can do it?  Why don't I know this?

So, Janae is responsible for giving me that final push and a whole lot of direction, so really I have her to thank for getting my blog started.

And once I got started, there was no stopping me.  I have so many ideas that I'm constantly jotting things down and taking pictures so I can document things for a later post.

It's gotten so bad, that I've darn near killed my camera.  My friends and family have started saying to me, in exasperated tones, "You're going to blog about this, aren't you?"  Well now that you've mentioned it . . . yes.  Thanks for asking.

Not only has my blog become a place for me to capture all my crazy ideas and projects, but it has actually motivated me to complete projects and do some of the things that I've been wanting to do.  You see, my goal is to have something to post about every day, so I've got to do something so that I have something to post about.  It's amazing how it works.

My blog is also a place for me to document my life and my interests.  It's not focused on my family so much, although they are a part of it, but it is more a place for me to express myself and share some of the ideas that I sometimes feel are flooding out of me.  As I've mentioned before, I'm a big list person, and in one sense, my blog is like my completed To Do List or my in progress To Do List.  In my own strange way, it's my photographic journal of my lists.

My ultimate goal is to make each year of my blog into a book for myself.  I know there must be lots of places that do this, but I've found this site that will slurp my blog into a book.  I envision getting my blog for each year slurped into it's own book so that I have a record of my blog's life. I look at it as a speedy way to scrapbook.

I want to be able to do more with my pictures on my blog, so I've starting taking a PhotoShop class.  I just started, otherwise I would have cleaned up my picture a bit.  Lifted my droopy eyelids and gotten ridden of some of those extra bits on my jawline.  Oh geez, that's a whole other post for some other day.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Recipe Card Dividers & Binder Cover


How to Print & Use My Recipe Cards


How I Organize My Recipes

Menu Planning for a Month and Tabs for Recipe Divider Cards 

Homework Centers

I got this idea off of Tip Junkie and it was submitted by Holly. Holly originally found it in a Martha Stewart book, so already I love it. 

Anyway, this is a homework center and the timing is just perfect. After the girls get home from school each day, trying to get them to focus on their homework and stop farting around is pushing me over the edge.

These homework centers are the perfect solution, and they're super easy, and fast, to put together. I was amazed at how quickly they came together.

Here's what you need:

1 large fold-out display board (1 board will make 2 homework centers), duct tape (it comes in other colors besides industrial grey, but we have black), ginormous multi-color rubber bands, binder clips, and an index card box (I got the cute decorative ones at Staples).

Step 1: Measure the display board twice and cut once, in half, with a utility knife.

Step 2: Cover the cut edges of the display board with duct tape.

Step 3: Randomly add the large rubber bands around the display board. Use two to fasten the index card box onto the board.

The rubber bands are great for tucking paper, pencils, etc. into.

Step 4: Clip a few binder clips across the top of the display board. These are great for clipping paper as well.

Here's Thing 1, LOVING her new homework center. The girls were so excited when they got home from school and found their new homework centers, that they squealed "Let's play school!"

Thing 1 even added some of her own personal touches.

Thing 2 got right down to business and did her homework.

Recently, both girls were sitting behind their homework centers reading and I could only see Thing 2.  I asked her where her sister was and she replied "She's in her box."  She was right there next to me and I didn't even know it.  How great is that?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

Here's another one of my tried and true recipes. I've been making these enchiladas for a couple years and they're quite different than beef enchiladas. Not just because they're made with chicken, but because they're made with a green sauce.
They're also super easy to make. There's no frying of tortillas to have to deal with, which is a big plus in my book.
I can't stand my house to smell like grease after frying tortillas. Peanut Head and I have even taken our electric wok outside to fry because the lingering smell is so annoying.

The star ingredient in this recipe is the tomatillos. This year Peanut Head actually grew some in our garden, so here's what they look like, in case you've never seen one before.

They are encased in a papery husk, and inside the husk the tomatillos look like small green tomatoes.

They are firm, and slightly sticky feeling. They're tart and acidic with flavors of apple and lemon.

In the store, you can usually find them alongside the chile peppers. Choose ones that are firm and make sure to remove the husk and rinse the fruit before using them.

Does this make you want to run out and buy tomatillos? I promise you, these enchiladas are delicious.

I just found out that Martha Stewart dedicated a whole show to bloggers. Go to her blog and check out some of the blog tips and enter to get your blog featured at her site.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Allowance Jars

About a year ago we started giving our girls allowance for some of the chores they do around the house.  I did a lot of reading about the pros and cons of giving kids an allowance for doing chores, and I found out there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding the subject.

We even had some heated discussions about it in my house.  Peanut Head argued, and I don't disagree, that they should be doing chores as members of this family and not expecting to get something for everything they do.  After all, as adults we don't get paid to do our own housework, right?

On the other hand, I want the girls to have an allowance so they learn how to manage money, and I want them to develop a good work ethic and know what it's like to work and save for something they want.  I want to use it as a teaching tool.  

In the end, we agreed to give them a small allowance, but they still have to do whatever we tell them to do because we're bigger and we're the parents.  I think the girls like having the responsibility, and I know it has helped me in my own housework.

Anyway, I also knew that I wanted them to save a portion of their money and to give a portion of their money to charity.  That's where these little jars come in.  They each get $1.75 a week of which they get to spend $.75, they have to save $.75, and they have to put aside $.25 for charity. When they get enough in their jars to make a bank deposit or a donation, we take the money out for that purpose.

They are free to spend their money in their spend jars on whatever crap they want.  And believe me, that's exactly what they buy.  I cringe when I see them feeding quarters into the little machines at the grocery store.  I shudder when they beg me to take them to the dollar store. It's like paying good money to bring Happy Meal toys into the house, and I cannot stand Happy Meal toys.  They breed clutter.  The kids love them though, so I try, once in awhile, to indulge them and just look the other way.

The jars are just one idea.  I've seen other people use envelopes, and I actually think that would be more convenient, so why not decorate some little envelopes instead?  I would do it, but I made these things and we're going to use them dang it.  At least until one of them falls to the floor and shatters.

Click here to see how this idea turned out.

Friday, September 19, 2008

September Procrastination Challenge--And a New Wreath!

This is my gnarly front door.  I say gnarly because it has had the crap beat out of it by the former storm door.  

You think I'm kidding?  I am not.  I live in Idaho.  Idaho is windy.  Our old storm door opened out North and the wind comes from the South.  Well, duh.

In our defense, we were new to Idaho and didn't know about such things.  In California we had just the gentlest of breezes and paradise-like weather that became monotonous, day after day after day.  Well, maybe not that last part, but California doesn't get crazy, scary Idaho wind.

So, not like I need to finish with this story or anything, but the wind caught the door and slammed it up against the house repeatedly, BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

We were left with a bent and broken door frame, shattered glass everywhere, and the door was hanging off its hinges.  I'm seriously not kidding.  It was a mess and it was sad because the storm door was maybe a year old, tops.

So, for our new storm door, Peanut Head was sure to install it so that it opened out South so the wind could only slam it shut instead of beating the house to death with it.  We do learn.

Then, as if my door wasn't sad enough, I bought a gorgeous purple wreath last spring that melted right off of its hangar and dripped all the way down the door.  The wax has been mostly scraped off, but it has left an unsightly snail trail of sorts.  Yes, it looks like dried snot. Disgusting.

So, back to my point, my front door is in need of some sprucing up.  I've been wanting to paint it red for quite some time, and Debbie over at Virtually Organized has posted a September Procrastination Challenge.

This is right up my alley.  Remember my self help book about Procrastinating.  The one I haven't read yet, but I'm going to someday?  Well, you can see where this is going.

Right now, I am officially declaring to the world and committing myself to paint my front door before the end of the month.  I marched into Lowe's today and bought the paint and primer so now I'm committed.

To motivate myself to follow-up on my procrastination challenge, I decided to make myself a fall wreath.

I got most of this stuff on sales at Michael's (50% off this week) and found some of it in my craft closet.

I started snipping leaves off.

And arranging them around the wreath.  Hot gluing them as I went.

There.  Isn't that pretty?

There's just one problem.  I accidentally glued the wreath to the table in my efforts to secure all the leaves.

That's okay, I have a putty knife and that sucker came right off.

I'm pretty happy with it, although it might disappear into my new red door.  We'll have to wait and see.

While eating dinner this evening we heard a strange noise. "PLINK!"

We looked up, alarmed, and I said "MY WREATH!"

One of the pine cones had popped right off.  I sure hope this wreath isn't going to rot off my door.