Friday, December 28, 2007

Feeling a bit squeezed

As another year comes to an end, I'm beginning to feel a bit of a squeeze. I'm at a storage crossroads. I do a lot of "big" cooking and therefore require lots of dishes and serving pieces. I however live in a house that was not built for storage. The cabinets were chosen because you have to put something on the wall. That's it. No actual thought of what might be stored in them and if those items would fit? A 12 inch cabinet over the dishwasher??? Are you kidding me?? Anyway, let's just say my stash of dishes and such are scattered all over the house. This makes it a complete pain to put things away. A couple of months ago, I got a big burst of energy and completely organized my cabinets. Bree would have been proud. However, it was not to last. In order to "maximize" my storage, incredible amounts of stacking had to occur. Now every time I need to get, or worse put back, a dish it is like a big game of Jenga.
So now the question: am I brutal and purge, purge, purge? or start stashing away money for my new kitchen cabinets? I know I should purge, but it is sooooo hard. I have nice things and it is hard to let them go. I suppose I can start with easier pieces I have picked up while thrifting, but that will only go so far. I have more stuff than room. Bummer.
I guess I will take the plunge and purge. It always feels so good when it is done. With New Year Resolutions just around the corner now is as good of time as any. On Christmas Eve, I took 6 large trash bags full of house stuff to the goodwill. I'm sure there is another 5 or 6 lurking. Okay, I've talked myself into it. Let the purging begin :0)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We had ourselves a merry little Christmas

Well, another Christmas is in the books. Although it was off to a bit of shaky start (everyone but me was hit by the flu bug) I think it turned out pretty well.
Before the plague hit our family, my mom and I were able to bake up a bunch of cookies. The plan was to put together some cookie trays for friends, but that just didn't happen. So here we were on Christmas Eve with tins full of naked cookies.
Sammie and I decided we would frost the cookies, since we had to leave some for Santa anyway, and it turned out to be a very fun time. In fact, I think this will be come a new little tradition. We had "It's a Wonderful Life" on in the background, we frosted cookies and after leaving a few for Santa we drove around and looked at lights. It was a nice way to wind down Christmas Eve and then kids were almost asleep by the time we got back which made bedtime a snap.
Christmas morning Ben came in very early and wanted to go check out his stocking. I told him he had to wait for Sammie, who was still sleeping, and he actually did. Poor Ben, Sammie slept in until 9. There is a running joke in our family as to the contents of stockings. When I was in Jr. High, my brother took my Journey tape and used it to document his Christmas Eve. At one point he goes and does a little recon on his stocking contents. He states he had received an orange, a candy cane of M&M's and 2 lottery tickets, both losers. He signs off with "wish me luck under the tree". Of course at the time, it was not funny but now I wish I still had the tape. So now Santa always leaves oranges, candy canes full of M&M's and 2 lottery tickets. Santa also leaves on ornament which reflects the interest of each kid. It is kind of fun to see the progression of interest from Elmo to Clifford to super heroes and now Star Wars. Ben got the "Death Star" ornament which lights up and talks. Sammie's ornaments have gone from Jojo to Dora and now princesses. I'm trying to avoid the whole Disney princess thing, so I found a marshmallow princess. It is very cute.

Once the stocking were done, the wait began. We were having everyone for dinner around 5 and then we would open presents after that. Ben and Sam were such troopers. They didn't beg to open presents too much and kept themselves busy. Everyone was coming to our house for dinner. We decided to keep the menu easy: Prime rib, potatoes, asparagus, salad, rolls and cheesecake. I had never done a prime rib before and besides forgetting to season the meat (ugh), I think it turned out well.
Present time was fun and everyone got good stuff. Even though we don't really go overboard with gifts, there was quite a big pile.
Ben had asked for an electric blanket, gotta love a kid with a practical side, and Sammie asked for a fishing pole.
I love the fact that our kids asked for simple things. In an age of "I'll text you a link for my gift registry", it makes me happy that my kids are still unjaded. Our family wants for nothing and they seem to get that.
Today will be spent cleaning up the aftermath. I thought I did more last night, but oh well, at least I got a load of dishes through the dishwasher. Joji is at work and Ben is off at a friend's house so it is just me and Sammie. I think a little mommy/daughter bonding time cleaning the kitchen is in order, lucky Sam :0)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ben is 9

Yesterday was Ben's 9th birthday. Hard to believe. It has flown by. It is kind of funny that his birthday is right before Christmas. Ben's original due date was January 9th. I was happy to hear this because I always wished my birthday was "during school" so my mom could bring cupcakes. At least now I would have a kids with a "school" birthday, I was happy. However, my body and pregnancy didn't get along and Ben ended up being induced a couple of weeks early. So Ben came into the the world on December 21st at 7:51 pm.
He was so small. I was expecting a big baby, but he was only 6 lb 6oz. He had no fat and his poor little skin just hung on him. Since he was early he had trouble eating and dropped down to 5 lbs. Needless to say it was a very scary and tiring first few weeks, but soon Ben caught on and he hasn't stopped growing. He is tipping the scales at 115 and is almost 5 feet tall. Folks who meet him for the first time think he is middle school. But fortunately, Ben is still super sweet and a total mama's boy (in the good way) He still wants to be tucked in at night and likes to snuggle on the weekends. I hope he stays this way for a long time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rain, rain, go away already

I am a week away from Christmas. Ben came home from school sick, my house could use a good cleaning and my Christmas card list is getting shorter and shorter. Every year I kind of "hit the Christmas wall". We joke that one of our family traditions is the annual throwing out of the cookie dough. This year, it just might happen again :0)
December is usually grey and rainy around here. It can be a big Christmas buzzkill. The thought of leaving the house is not a pleasant one. One of my favorite scenes in Forrest Gump is when he is in Viet Nam and talking about the different kinds of rain. (I think he was actually in Seattle) He talks about the "big, fat rain". Today I was driving around and the raindrops were the size of nickles. It almost looked like snow, but it was 45 degrees. These are the kind of raindrops that soak you instantly. There is no defense. They aways find the back of your neck. It is so not fun. At least with snow, it is pretty. Rain, not so much. Everywhere has snow, but us. Just a light dusting to help motivate me, isn't too much to ask, is it?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cookie Exchange: Hungarian Kifiles

The is a recipe for a Hungarian Kifiles (KEE-flees). We have them every year and only at Christmas. My grandma used to them very tiny, but my mom and I haven't been able to master that so ours tend to be more of a "two biter". They are light, flaky and not overly sweet. We make them with both prune or apricot lukvar, but I like the prune the best. These are the kind of cookies that will cause folks to hover in the kitchen and risk a burned mouth to eat them hot out of the oven. Consider yourself warned :0)

Hungarian Kifiles
2 C Butter
4 C Flour
4 Egg Yokes
1 C Sour Cream
Prune or Apricot Lukvar (located in the store with pie fillings)
Combine ingredients, divide into 5 balls of dough and chill overnight. (If you are not going to make the cookies up the next day, put the dough in the fridge as it will turn gray if left in the fridge too long)

Roll the dough out thinly and then cut into squares (the more even the squares, the easier to roll them)

Put a small dollop of filling and roll up like a crescent roll.
Brush with egg white and bake 20 minutes at 350.
As soon as they come out of the oven dust with powdered sugar and let cool. Once cooled, sprinkle again.

Be sure to stop by Jessica's, Jenny's, Marie's, Kate's and Meg's kitchens to see what goodies they have to share :0)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hustle and Bustle

You Are a Gingerbread House

A little spicy and a little sweet, anyone would like to be lost in the woods with you.
Today is a busy one, but of course it will be lots of fun. Akiko and I are in shopping mode. We are hitting the stores for goodies for the party, hitting the local thrift stores for some waiting holiday treasures and of course grabbing a bite to eat. On my "don't stress and get stuff done early list" for the party today is supposed to be my "deep clean" day. Yeah, somehow shopping seems more fun :0)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Fun

The carpets are cleaned and the tree is up. Holiday buzz is in the air. We have begun the prep for our party. We still have 20 folks who have not RSVP'd yet. I doubt that most of them will come, but it would be nice to know either way. Wednesday is the deadline, so I'm curious to see if I hear from anyone. One of the nice features of "evite" is that it will remind you if you have not RSVP'd.
We were going over the menu tonight. It takes a lot of thought to make up a party menu. I'm kind of a picky eater, so I really try and be sensitive to other picky eaters out there and have something for everyone.
Here is what is on the menu so far:
Sushi (California rolls, unagi maki, ebi sushi and some type of cucumber roll ~ Akiko and BaChan make amazing sushi it is the star of the show)
Beef Satay
Hot Wings
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Egg Rolls
Baked Spinach Dip
Cantaloupe and Prosciutto
Veggie Tray
Deviled Eggs
Meat and Cheese Platter
Bacon Wrapped Dates
Pigs in a Blanket
Chocolate Fountain with various dippers
Sugar and Gingerbread Cookies
As for spirits, we keep it simple. Big bucket of ice with beers and "mikes". Usually we have Cosmopolitan Jello Shots. Kind of cheesy, but very tasty. However, I'm in a slight panic due to the fact that NO ONE has cranberry Jello. Hopefully, I can find some. If not, we will just have to make due with a Cosmo punch :0)

Thanks to the folks who signed up for the cookie swap (hopefully, we will get some more) I'm thinking our official post day can be the 12th. That way folks can get to see the recipes and still have some time to try them out. If you know anyone who might want to join us, send on over. The more the merrier!!
And speaking of merry... check this out. Too fun :0)

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Art of a Cookie Exchange

I love the idea of a cookie exchange. I love to bake and I take a lot of pride in what I bake. So when I hear about a cookie exchange, I get excited and sign up. Well, I haven't participated in a ton of these, but I always seem to have the same experience. I spend a lot of time baking cookies from an old family recipe, put them into pretty packages and then show up only to come home with many ziploc bags full of broken snickerdoodles (I'm not knocking the snickerdoodle, I just find it funny that it seems to be a very popular Christmas cookie, who knew?)
Anyway, one night my mom stumbled across a website dedicated to the art of hosting a cookie exchange. Of course, having a little German in us, we instantly went to "the rules" page. She minces no words on what kind of cookies are acceptable and what kinds are not. She also encourages you to find an upscale bakery if you your cookies are not up to snuff. Apparently, her methods work and she hosts a huge exchange every year. On the website are pictures for many of the years and I must admit is looks fun.
I have always wanted to host a cookie exchange of my own, but it always seems December slips away too quickly. So I thought I would try and host a virtual cookie exchange. I planned on posting pics and recipes of the cookies I was planning to make and I figured why not invite others to share. So if you are interested (and I really hope folks are) let me know if you would like to join me and I will "try to" create a link list.
And now for the RULES:
Post a recipe and pic of your favorite Christmas Cookie on December 12th
If there is a story or history behind the recipe, feel free to share that as well.
Don't stress and have fun (seems to be a common theme for folks this year)

Tonight we are setting up the Christmas tree. Sammie and Ben are so excited. It is also supposed to snow tonight. How great would that be?? :0)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


That is how I feel the time is going. I've sat down a couple of times to blog and there is always some emergency. I was reading the draft I started after Thanksgiving, but now that seems like ancient history. We did have a fantastic time. All 14 of us (not to mention my brother's dog Brookie) enjoyed a ton of great food and lots of good visiting. It was nice to have our friends the Zimmermans come down. Everyone had a 'buddy' so it was very fun.
I think my favorite part of the dinner, was the gravy. I feel the gravy can make or break the dinner. (One year we went to a friend's house for Thanksgiving and the gravy was sooo bad. We still shudder... Maybe I'm old fashioned or a bit of a gravy snob, but gravy is made from turkey drippings, not liquefied leeks.) Anyhoo, I roasted some veggies in the pan with the turkey and I think they really added a nice flavor. Usually a poultry gravy is kind of on the lighter side of brown. This gravy was so rich and dark you might think it was a beef gravy if you didn't know better. It was soo good. I'm definitely roasting veggies again next year. I also brined the bird. If you have never brined a bird, totally worth it. Spend the 60 seconds to fill a bucket with water and throw in a couple of cups of salt and sugar. The turkey comes out so moist. Even the leftovers were moist.
We spent most of Friday in comas on the couch. NO 4am shopping for us. We are pretty small scale Christmas folks when it comes to gifts. Ben's birthday is the 21st so we do a big birthday and then Christmas can be scaled back. I was kind of worried about a birthday so close to Christmas, but it has worked out nicely for our family.
Once the turkey was out of our systems, Joji and I took the plunge and painted our room. We have lived in the house 4 1/2 years and our room is so neglected. When I find the camera I will post the befores and afters.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The quiet before the storm...

It's Tuesday night and I'm not really feeling very stressed about my hosting duties on Thursday. We will have 14 all together, although not all at the same time. Joji's mom and sister will probably get there about the time the turkey sandwiches start to make an appearance. The only thing that concerns me right now is the size of the turkey. My brother got one from work and it is 14 lbs. I consulted the butterball website and they recommended a 12 lb bird if we didn't want leftovers. I'm hoping it will be enough with a little left over. I just hate the idea of running out of food. I will most likely pick up a turkey breast tomorrow to cook along with the bird, just to make sure.
I did my big shopping today. My cart was completely full. I don't usually shop that big, but I hadn't been shopping in a while and we were out of everything! It was a good chance to clean out my fridge though. Not just toss the past date stuff, but actually wash out the drawers and shelves. (It is amazing how funky stuff can get) But now it is all clean and I won't have to worry if someone is rummaging through my fridge.
Speaking of fridges... we have a side by side. At first, I was excited to have this style, but now, not so much. I like having stuff up high, but you can't fit very much in there. I certainly couldn't defrost a turkey in there. I am so wanting the french door/freezer on the bottom kind of fridge. The only rub is that you have to decide if you want just water in the door or water and ice. If you get ice, you can have "crushed" ice (big selling point), but you loose the storage space on the inside of the door. We keep going back and forth on this. Storage or crushed ice... tough one. Hopefully, but the time we decide they will have come down in price.

Friday, November 16, 2007

And so it begins...

Well, I survived all my "have to's" of late and now the fun stuff starts. I just sent out the invites for our annual Christmas Party. It seems so early, but it is really only three weeks away. I used evite, which I don't love (I used to send actual invitations) but I do like the fact I can see who has read the invite and who has RSVP'd. I'm sure I will be compulsively checking the evite for the next 3 weeks. Oh well, it is so exciting when the "will attend" list grows.
My sister-in-law Akiko and I already have the menu. We like to cook and our guests like to eat, so it is win/win all around. Akiko makes the most amazing sushi and that of course is a major draw. I like to think my friends come to see me, but I know it is really the sushi. This year, I will be making Beef Satay. It is so good my mouth is watering just thinking about it. However, it requires Joji standing at the BBQ in the middle of December. Typically, outdoors in W. Washington is not the best place to be in December, but this year has been unseasonably mild so far. I guess this is the upside to global warming (Sorry, Al)
Last year for his birthday (late December), Ben wanted a chocolate fountain. We felt the need to do a little test run at the party. It was a big hit. I highly recommend one if you are entertaining.
So now as I wait for my rsvp's to pour in, I will begin the list of chores that I want to get done prior to the party. I usually average about 50% completion rate. That's okay. Beer goggles work on houses too, right?

Monday, November 12, 2007


Yesterday, Sammie and I had a date with Diego. If you have never been to one of the "Fill in the blank Live" shows, they are pretty good. I went to my first show with Ben (I think it was Blues Clues) with absolutely no expectations. I was truly amazed at how much "production" there was. It was very cool and Ben and all the other kids sat there mesmerized by it all. We have seen Blues Clues, Dragon Tales, Dora and now Diego. We had a great time. The show was great and the 3 little girls we were with sang, danced and growled along the whole time.

However, the best part of the day was getting to catch up with my friend Chris. We met last year in the co-op and I adore her and her two little girls. I don't usually seek out people to be my friends, but Chris is just so nice and friendly and very fun. Now that her girls are in Kindergarten our paths don't cross as often as I would like. I know I have shared many of the headaches that life in co-operative preschool has brought me, but I wouldn't stick with it if it weren't for the reward of great friends like Chris.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Easy as Pie

Today, I played "working mom". I left the house early with Joji in charge in his role of "stay at home dad". I am doing some freelance work for the local school district. It is fun to be back in the schools (especially elementary) but I was so glad that I was just visiting. I saw a lot of great teaching ideas, but they made me instantly tired because I remember all the hours I used to spend creating, prepping and implementing my own ideas. Someday I will go back, just not right now.
Not only did I work today, Joji is hosting the DND guys tonight. Dinner was super simple (meatloaf, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls and green beans), but Joji requested pies for dessert.
I think the trick with pie is that you can't eat them right away. They need to sit and set. In fact some pies, like pumpkin are better the next day. One Thanksgiving, we had our good friends, Matt and Megan, over for a pre-kid "friends" Thanksgiving. Megan is a pie maker and she, of course, brought the pumpkin pie. We all had a slice after dinner and Megan made the comment it needed to sit a day. Joji then asked her if "sitaday" was a spice. Silly Joji. But Megan was right most pies, should sit a bit.
My plan for the DND pies was to make them last night, but I was too tired. I hit the hay early and got up very early this morning to crank out some pies so they could set up all day. Now baking at 5:30, may not be everyone's idea of fun, it really isn't mine either, but it is nice to start the day a with perfectly crimped pie crust. I got my crust recie from Megan and it is called "never fail" and it never has. It is so easy to make and use. It is very forgiving and holds up well.
If you have ever wanted to bake a pie and were intimidated by the crust, trust me and try this one. With turkey day less than 2 weeks away, it is a good time to practice.

Never Fail Pie Crust
1 1/2 C shortening (I use butter flavor crisco)
3 C flour
1 t salt
Pulse in cuisanart until size of small peas
In a small bowl mix
1 large egg well beaten
1 T vinegar
5 T ice water
Add to flour mixture and pulse until a ball forms. This is enough for one 9" 2 crust pie or 2 single crust pies.
I usually roll it between to sheets of waxpaper. Much easier to handle and much less mess :0)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Busy, busy, busy. Aren't we all this time of year???
Some is fun

(Sammie and Nathan on a windy playdate at the beach)

Some is kinda fun

Another day of baking (My poor kitchen needs a deep clean)

And some, not so much

(Joji and Matt installing a new waterline at our rental house)

Never a dull moment seems to be the theme of our Novembers so far.
It is only Tuesday and the week still has to offer an 8am training meeting on Wednesday, preparing the spread (thankfully, I'm not the only one baking)for the PTA's parent day on Thursday and the DND guys coming for dinner on Friday.
I think Monday the 12th I will schedule myself a nice pedicure apt. I got a gift certificate for Mother's Day and it is time to cash that puppy in!! :0)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Simple pleasures

With today being the first day of November and the season of giving thanks, I thought I would post something I'm grateful for. I was going to post the view from my bedroom window. I feel like I'm in a tree house when I look outside, but I could not find my camera until after the sun went down (of course) So, uninspired, I started strolling around blogland. Sure enough, I found a sweet little post about the simple things we forget to appreciate. Southern Sugar had posted some everyday photos that she loved.
I decided that since I couldn't share my tree house photo, I would share one of my favorite pics of Ben and Sam. I love how Ben is all happy and Sam is still trying to decide if she is happy or sad. I have this picture all over my house. It captures their personalities perfectly and I that's what I love about them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cupcakes and parties and pumpkins, oh my!

Well, it has been a doozy of week around here. Busy, busy, busy.
I was in baking overdrive. I am in love with cupcakes. They could not be easier. So little effort and a whole lot of "ta da". Seriously, 5 minutes of prep and you are rewarded with a bounty of yummy. I made 3 batches on Friday (72 in total) and discovered the joy of piping the frosting onto my cupcakes. I usually smear a big plop of frosting on top, but that just seemed too slow. I have a big tip and collar, but I couldn't find my pastry bag so I pulled a "Sandra Lee" and used a ziploc bag. It actually worked and held up to all the refilling. I was very glad. Usually when I try and use a baggie, it bursts. I guess I just lucked out. All in all the cupcakes were great. They all went at the cake walk and a mom even thought they were store bought (I'm taking that as a compliment)
Saturday was a whirlwind of parties. Preschool Harvest Party, Haunted House for the kids and another birthday dinner in the month long celebration that is Jojifest. 9:30 rolled around and we were wiped out. Good thing the kids went to Joji's mom's house to spend the night. It mean no one would be tapping me on the cheek at 1 am wondering where apple juice comes from. I'm pretty sure I spent most of Sunday sleeping. Although I did manage to make it into town to get a 4 tiered swing arm serving stand. I can't wait to use it for the Christmas party. Hopefully, I can get some recoup time, before that fun begins.
Every year, it seems that we are frantically carving our pumpkins at 5:30 on Halloween. The kids have fun, but it can be a little stressful. This year, Joji took the kids today to get some pumpkins an we actually got them carved tonight. Well, all of us except Ben. When we took the lid off his pumpkin it was all black an furry inside. He is getting a new pumpkin tomorrow.
I don't know about you, but in our family people always seem to get the same kind of pumpkin. My dad ALWAYS gets the tall pumpkin and carves flaming eyes with a scary smile. I always get the cute round type and make circle eyes and a 3 tooth smile.
This year as I sat down to draw out my circle eyes, Ben suggested I draw the whole family. So breaking from tradition, I did and I LOVE it. Had I planned better I would have made the faces bigger but I will know better for next year.
Hope you all are finding a little time to stop and carve some pumpkins :0)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Old Man River

I have been feeling really old as of late.
Last night was Joji's 39th birthday. It was a mellow birthday, but it made me feel old.
It didn't help that this past weekend, Joji's cronies from "back in the day" got together. Even though I have know these guys since I was 13, I was informed it was a "no wives" dinner. Whatever. Of course, when Joji got home I kept him up until 2am making him recite every conversation that took place.
There are so many stories that involve this little group of boys. The kind of stories that involve situations you never find yourself in now. When was the last time you were grounded all summer, only to be left unsupervised the weekend before the start of your Sr. year? How could you not invite a couple friends over for a small get together? How could you possible predict the entire FW student body would show up? Every week there was always a new adventure. For some I had a front row seat and others I got the juicy details Monday at school.
Now I realize you get to a point in life where friends passed out under the neighbor's tree isn't funny and I'm glad my Monday morning conversations don't involve evading the police, but it sure is fun to revisit a time when the pressing issue of the day is NOT the broken water pipe at the rental house, but how to recover from eating too much fruit from the spodey before you had to go home.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pumpkin Patch and Apple Pie

It has been a very busy week around here and I really don't see it slowing down anytime soon. I'm trying to keep everything in perspective so that I can enjoy what is happening instead of stressing over whether or not things are being done the right way. ( I too have a little bit of "Bree" in me)
Last week we made the annual pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch with the preschool. Field trips tend to stress me out a little bit due to the chaos of it all, but this one is great. Terry's Berries is a little organic farm down the hill from us in Puyallup. The kids get to go on a hayride, feed chickens, pick berries, dig potatoes, pick apples, make cider and of course pick a pumpkin.

(I found out this year, they don't actually grown pumpkins on the farm, oh well, still fun) They end the tour at their little veggie stand and of course we bought some stuff to take home. The apples they grow there are so good. We bought a couple and decided we needed to make an apple pie for dessert.

Now, I can make a decent one crust pie (pecan, pumpkin, etc), but fruit pies are tricky. I believe you should be able to "plate" a slice of pie without it running all over the place. The filling can ooze out slowly, but not be a juicy mess. I googled apple pie recipes (I bet the google guys love that "google" is now a verb) and found one that looked promising. I usually google "killer whatever I want to make" I figure if someone calls their recipe "killer" it must be good. I actually found a recipe for "killer apple pie". Bingo
So I assemble all my stuff to make the pie. Sammie was quite the good little helper. Everything was going great. Even used my "good thing" rolling trick and viola, the pie was done.
Fast forward a couple of hours...
The house smells great... we had a yummy dinner... are ready for dessert... we cut into the pie and it was a big soupy mess!! Ugh!!!! All that work down the drain and it was not very "killer" at all. I also learned that juicy, messy apple pies are the world's best fruit fly traps. (Let's just say we didn't finish the pie) Oh, well. Better to toss a non-killer apple pie than have to say goodbye to one that was really good. So the search continues...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

random stuff

Here are couple of things lately that have made me happy.

1. I was crafty.

I like to think of myself as artsy, but I have the hardest time actually finishing anything. This weekend I actually completed a project and might actually do more. I was inspired by Tina's daughter, Micha, to try my hand at some fun letters. It is hard to see in the pic, but I found some great cobweb paper and I love the yellow "calico" paper as well. I would love to figure out a way to string them somehow, but that would require another trip to the craft store. Maybe later this week. So fun and super easy.

2. People like my cooking.
Now I am in no way a super cook, but what I can make, I make really well. I love the fact that Joji's friends look forward to coming to our house because they know the eating is good. Last time around I made a big batch of General Tso Chicken. It was my best batch yet. The best part, it is so easy.

3. I make a mean cupcake.
Well, actually the cupcakes are okay, it is the frosting that is really the star of the show. One of my favorite combos is chocolate an peanut butter. These little gems are devils food cupcakes with fluffy PB frosting. Yummy!!!! In a couple of cupcakes I put a peanut butter cup into the batter. This I think was a bit much. I liked the ones without it and preferred the sprinkling of crushed cups on top.
With all the business of school stuff and feeling like if it isn't done right, it's my fault, I just have to take a minute and remember that I can do some things really well. If only housework was on this little list. :0)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!!!!!!!!

As crappy as my weekend was I could not be happier at this moment.
Thanks A-rod, you didn't disappoint.
Go Red Sox!!

Saturday, October 6, 2007


I would like to send a sincere to thanks all of the ladies out there who create the wonderful blogs that let me escape from all "have to's" and "you should have's" of everyday life. I know I can count on fun, whit and a little inspiration wherever I visit.
Thanks a million :0)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Baseball in October

The time of year has come again to put away my M's stuff and pick another team to cheer on to the world series. Tonight I was all about the Cleveland Indians. During the regular season they tend to be a thorn in our M's side, but when they play the Yankees, I'm all about "The Tribe". What a game tonight. I hope it is a sign of things to come.
I am routing for the Red Sox to win the AL and the Cubbies the NL. We usually route for the AL team in the World Series, but if the Cubbies make it, how can you not route for them?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Garage Zen

I guess you get to a place in your life and a weekend spent cleaning a garage is considered fun. I actually found myself doing the girlie jumping/clapping thing (you know what I'm talking about).
Over the 4th of July weekend, Joji and I spent 4 days cleaning/purging/organizing our garage. It was a lot of work, but it felt great after we were done. Things were cruising along just fine until our friend Matt came over and did one of those, "you know what you should do" things. He put the bug in Joji's ear that he could build a complete shop in our garage without taking up any more floor space than what was currently being used. I didn't really pay attention until I heard, "and Laurie could park in the garage too". Okay, I'm in and I'm going to do everything I can to make this happen.
This Saturday, the boys hit the home depot and returned with the stuff they needed and in a couple of hours cranked out some pretty sa-weet shelves. The best part is that there is now a home for everything. I was in charge of organizing the peg board. It looks great. I went into the garage this morning and the sunlight streaming into my clean garage made me all tingly.
My side of the garage is a Goodwill trip away from being useful. With the rain we get around here, it will be so nice to just get into my car and go. Joji is already planning lots of little projects. He mentioned building me new kitchen cabinets, but I think we will start with something a little smaller. Of course, the beast called I-Need-A-Nail-Gun has been awakened and with Joji's birthday around the corner, he just might get one.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lazy Days of Fall

This is how I'm feeling today. It is grey, foggy and misting. I have lit all the candles in my house and I would light the fireplace, but it makes st ranges sounds. Today is a "curl up with a book" day. It should be a "gets lots done" day, but that might be tough. I think Sam and I will have some lunch and curl up for a quick "quiet time". We haven't had a quiet day like this for a while and it takes a while to get back into the swing of things (or lack of swing anyway)
Maybe a cat nap will give the burst of energy I need to clean up the garage. Joji is building a shop this weekend in his half of the garage. If all goes well, I might actually be able to park in the garage (check off life goal #3)
Wishing everyone a cozy Tuesday :0)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tagged: Part Deux

Okay, so Kellie at Acorn cottage tagged me for the middle name tag.
Her middle name is Ann too, but without the "e". It was interesting to see what she wrote for each letter. She also mentioned that she uses her maiden name for her new middle name. I guess "officially" my middle name is Records, but I still sign my name with an "A" (I never liked my "R's") Anyhoo, here goes:
A: ADD. I think I have it. I can't remember the last time I didn't stop in the middle of sentence and ask to be reminded about the topic.
N: Nerds. Gotta love 'em. My hubby just hacked into the Nickelodeon website to get the presale code for Go Diego Go Live. Isn't he dreamy?? I have a lot of "nerdy" friends, but they are pretty great. Besides, Revenge of the Nerds was a great movie.
N: Nice. My mom always said, "it's nice to be important, but more important to be nice." I think that is pretty good advice. I deal with a lot of folks who missed this memo and it drives me crazy. Being nice is so easy and goes such a long way. Sure there are times when it can be tough, but in the long run you get so much further with people. I hope that when folks think of me, nice pops into their head. I know nice can sometimes be thought of as boring, but not to me.
E: Encyclopedia of Music Trivia. For some reason, useless trivia of the musical nature sticks in my brain. Friends will call me with a "who sang that" question and usually I can tell them. I must admit, my knowledge quickly plummets post 1995. I think all my years driving cars with AM radios helped. Joji thinks I would have made a lot of money on Rock 'n Roll Jeopardy. While I was cleaning out my garage, I found a music trivia book given to me by a good friend. Inside the inscription read: This book is not for you, but for those who challenge your knowledge. How fun is that??
Okay, so now I tag Jessica, Jenny, Kate and Meg
How to play:
Share something about yourself that starts with each letter of your middle name, then tag the same number of people as letters in your middle name.:0)

Seattle: Hardball and Headaches

Seattle should be used to it by now.
Promise, strong start, major slump, late season rally and see ya next spring.
It seems that as soon as the M's start playing well, someone tells them and they get spooked. We thought this might be the year. Nope.
Now some of us really die hard M's fans still believe there might be a chance. I think some where seen dancing naked with chickens during the last full moon and chanting something along the lines of "slump, yankees, slump". However, I don't think a-rod and boys in pinstripes got they memo. Bummer.
Oh well, you still gotta love those guys.
Just love this photo :0)

Friday, September 14, 2007


So this is my first "tag", very fun. Thanks Marie :0)
I'm supposed to come up with 7 random things about me and then tag 7 others. Hmmmmmm, lets see...
1. I have been known to drink 2 2liter bottles of Diet Mt. Dew in a day (I know not the healthiest, but I given it up for the most part and now I might have one can and rarely finish it)
2. I still crank the radio if a really good AC/DC comes on (even in the minivan)
3. I still have the blue eyeliner I wore to my prom
4. I just eat the "deviled" part of the egg and usually give the whites to my parent's dogs.
5. I can basically recite, Sixteen Candles, Valley Girl, Bull Durham and Young Frankenstein by heart
6. I basically have 3 outfits I wear ALL the time (kind of a mom uniform)
7. I have NEVER been an A-Rod fan, even when he played in Seattle. I'm secretly hoping that since he sold his soul, he will never get to play in October.
I know I'm supposed to tag folks now, but everyone I would tag has been already tagged. So if you are reading this and have not been tagged, consider yourself tagged!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

In the zone

So today has been one of those super productive days and it isn't even noon yet. I got up with Joji today at 4:30 and managed to clean up the kitchen and do two loads of laundry (really loving Monday is washday). Of course, there was NO WAY i was going to stay up, so I went back for a little shut eye with Sam in the big bed. Once we got up, it breakfast and off to school for Ben. I worked today for a couple of hours and I'm almost done with the laundry. I still have to go to the gym, but as soon as Joji gets home, I'm there. For dinner, I think we will have the almond crusted chicken that Rachel Ray made the other day with some rice and a big salad.
I just love days when I feel so productive. I guess if I maximized my time more I would have more of these days than the "other" kind.
Now I think I will go and tackle my "Kelly's Mission" for today. It involves cleaning off the top of my fridge. Hmmmm, it has been a while, but it is probably time :0)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Little leaves are okay...

Okay, the first week of September has come and gone. Along with many of you, I decided with September was the time to turn over a couple of new leaves.
Well, it has been a slow start, but I'm okay with that. I have decided to focus most of my efforts in the food department. Joji and I have joined "The Daily Plate". It is an online weight management forum. It allows you to track every thing you eat and the exercising you do. The site will calculate the number of calories you need to reach your goal. They also, have a gazillion foods listed, so it makes it really easy to keep track.
The first week on TDP I gave myself permission to just watch my portion sizes. Of course, HUGE eye opener. We have been "plating" everything vs family style and we just eat what is on our plate. I was very surprised how filling the right portions can be. I have also been portioning out crackers and chips and other snacky stuff. Even the kids are into it. Of course, the major reason for revamping how we eat was to set a good example for the kiddos. But if I loose a little weight in the process, even better:0)
As far as the goals of moving more and keeping up with the house... I start back at the gym on Monday and the house is hanging in there.
Speaking of the house, it is so longer run amok with wayward laundry. The Monday is washday is really working. Joji unstacked my washer and dyer so I now have a folding counter. I love it and it make folding clothes so much easier. Who would have ever thought I would semi enjoy doing laundry.
Change is good :0)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sanity Protection Program

I'm going into hiding. My brain is so full of other peoples junk that I can barely see straight. (why didn't I choose a DROP OFF preschool????)
I'm hoping I survie the weekend. Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Service v. Servant

I like school and have always been involved. Usually I really enjoy it. However, last night I had an interesting experience and I'm not quite sure how I felt about it.
Last night was "Meet your Teacher" night. It is a very informal come by and say hi kind of thing. In years past the PTA has had a table with committee sign ups and cookies. This year, the PTA was asked to put on a Hotdog dinner. Okay, fine. We did and it went well. What I thought was interesting that not one teacher offered to help. Now as a former teacher, I understand that they were getting their rooms ready before the dinner, but afterwards no one came to pitch in and help with the break down and clean up. At the school I worked at, it was just a given, help the PTA whenever possible. Sometimes it seems like our PTA's sole purpose is the give teachers money and do the grunt work. PTA should be more than that, so I guess I have my work cut out for me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Summer wind down

This has been an interesting summer. It seemed like every week there was a new "adventure" (aka crisis) and the weeks zipped by all too fast. Next week Ben heads back to school and I have mixed feelings. Ben and Sam are easy kids. They play together, they play alone, they play with their friends. I don't mind having them around at all. Some of my friends started the back to school count down at 12:01 pm on June 17. Not me, I like the lazy days of no schedules and hanging with the kiddos. However I do love Fall.
I woke up the other morning and it smelled like Fall. You know that crispness in the air that perks up instantly. The skies also look a little different. They just seem to be more richly colored. My favorite days are those that are cool and crisp, but also sunny. I hope our sun lasts a while here. Grey and gloomy is usually what we get November to March, so here's hoping global warming has some perks. Sorry, Al.
As I did my morning stroll across blogland, I found it so interesting that many of the blogs I read have the same theme of itching for Fall. We all seem to be tired of our fading summer gardens and can't wait for pumpkins to replace petunias.
Since the age of 2, I have had a "first day of school". As a student, a teacher and a mom, September always means a fresh start. There is something so fresh about that crisp fall air and beauty of the changing leaves (yes, even in the "Evergreen State" we still get a little fall foliage) that inspires me to revamp.
On the Fall to do list:
I will continue to work on my domestic skills. September first I will once again join the ranks of "flybaby" in an attempt to keep the house under control.
I will continue my quest for finding meals my family will eat, are easy to make and will be somewhat healthy :0)
I will find the time to take care of myself. I need to move more. Our family is going to do our local Thanksgiving day "turkey trot" so I need to be ready.
So, so long summer. It's been real. See ya next year :0)