Sunday, January 31, 2010

Funday Sunday

We're going to take a break from recipe sharing this Funday Sunday. This week I'm going to share a fun art project I ran across. Change it up a little. It's called Cornstarch Clay Handprints. This is great to do when kids are young and have those adorable little hands and feet. I made some of this dough yesterday for Greta's hand and foot prints and took some pictures of the process. It's super easy and when it's done you have a great keepsake to remember those precious little hands that grow way too fast.



Cornstarch Clay Handprints


1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup warm water
Couple of drops of food coloring, optional

Mix baking soda and cornstarch in a saucepan; add water and food coloring and stir until
smooth.
Over medium heat, continue to stir until the mixture is like mashed potatoes.



Pour onto board to cool.



When cool knead.

Make a ball of clay, press into a flat circle and press hand into clay.









Enjoy!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Delayed

I just finished canceling Greta's four month well baby appointment that was supposed to be this morning. We were predicted 5-10 inches of snow this morning only to wake up with just a dusting on the ground. That was going to be the reason for canceling. Dang it. The real reason? I can't make it anywhere on time, even to a 10:45 doctors appointment. It takes 25 minutes to wake the kids up and feed them, 15 minutes to wrangle all the little tiny socks and shoes, coats, mittens and hats onto them and load them into the van, 15 minutes to drive over to Jessica's house (because of giant road construction) and drop Wesley off and 45 minutes to drive to the doctors office. It's just not worth it. Especially for a stupid well baby exam. Have I mentioned how I think those things are such a waste of time? All that work for me to take the baby into the germ infested waiting room and have the nurse weigh her, then inject her with only God knows what. Eh, we'll do it next week. Maybe.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Furniture Movers

First off, Greta hit one of her first milestones on Sunday. She had her first laugh. Sean had her sitting on his lap and she leaned back and looked at him over her shoulder and let out a giggle. It was kind of like she was thinking "who is this goofy guy holding me?". I popped my head out from in the kitchen and asked if that was a laugh and sure enough she let out another giggle. It was precious.

My folks came over on Sunday evening for some enchiladas and brownies (yea not exactly diet food I know). We got to show them what we accomplished over the weekend. We moved a lot of furniture around on Saturday. We removed furniture from the whole middle of the house so we can start the floor project that so badly needs to be started. Sean is going to start chipping up the terra cotta tile that was torn up when we had foundation work done on the house three years ago (three years! Seems like yesterday). We plan to replace it with a floating wood floor. I can't wait! Getting rid of all that tile will take some time but now, in the dead of winter, is the perfect time for indoor projects. I know, easy for me to say when I won't be chipping up tiles.

Grandpa and Greta




The basement has progressively become quite a nice little playroom for Wesley. After this weekend, it now contains pretty much all of his toys. I was tired of his play kitchen and tiny table and chairs being in the living room so down they went to join every other toy in the house. He likes it down there and I just love having an area that he can play and be as destructive as he needs to be. It's nice to have a "grown-up" living room again, I almost forgot what it was like. Now, just two-to-three short years before I can move a coffee table up in front of the couch again (the coffee table was removed after several bonks and bruises when Wesley was learning to crawl and walk....now we just have to let Greta get past that stage for it to return). Anyways, that's all we've been up to, just moving on to the newest house project.

Playing in the basement




Monday, January 25, 2010

Siblings

Today I just have some cute pictures of the kids to post. Greta has started to enjoy sitting up (supported) on the couch. Wesley thinks this is great and piles toys in her lap. Have I mentioned how sweet of a big brother he is?



Sunday, January 24, 2010

Funday Sunday

We make a whole lot of chicken breasts in our house. I thought I'd share one of the many recipes for dressing up a chicken breast. This one is super easy with four ingredients, you probably have everything in your pantry as you are reading this. It's called Honey Mustard Baked Chicken.



Honey Mustard Baked Chicken

- 2-4 Chicken Breasts
-1/3. C. Butter, melted
-1/3 C. Honey
-2 T. Mustard

First off, melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave and stir in the honey and mustard. Place the chicken in a baking dish and pour the sauce mixture over the chicken. Place it, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for an hour, basting it every 15 minutes. Super easy. Serve it with a salad and some rolls and it's a tasty, easy, inexpensive meal.
Happy eating!

Friday, January 22, 2010

No double chin in 2010

Looks like I'm one of the millions of people that feel the need to loose weight around the beginning of the year. Two weeks ago I started changing my lifestyle to include eating healthier and working out regularly. I'm seeing results and have lost four pounds so far.

I've collected some weight loss tips from various TV shows and magazines that seem to be working for me and I thought I'd share them.

-No eating after 8 pm. Not a grape, definitely not a cookie.
-Snack often during the day. Choose healthy options like nuts, cheese sticks or frozen blueberries.
-Don't ever be hungry during the day. Eat small meals throughout the day. Keep your metabolism up and your blood sugar levels even.
-Repeat the same meals over and over again. If you are loosing weight by eating a salad every day for lunch, have one every day until you reach your goal. For me, I have an egg and a piece of veggie sausage every morning and a dark leafy green salad and cottage cheese for lunch. I've done this for two weeks. Not sick of it yet!
-Drinking hot liquids has been shown to reduce hunger. Have a cup of tea in the afternoon when the snack urge hits.
-If possible, cut sugar from your diet. This has been the hardest one to follow. I usually splurge on one thing once a week. I've read that sugar has almost the same addictive qualities as tobacco. I believe it.

Jessica and I are weight loss buddies and try to keep each other on track and urge one another on. Having a weight loss buddy is a good way to keep yourself accountable and not give up! Our goal is 10 pounds each to begin with. She's already lost 5+ pounds, go Jessica! Our reward? A dinner at the local mexican restaurant...without kids. And no, it will not blow all of our hard work. It's just something to look forward to.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Month Four


I can't believe I have a four month old already! I had forgotten how quickly this first year goes by. Little Greta is changing so much. At four months old she:

-is constantly grabbing at toys and pulling them into her mouth, everything goes in the mouth.
-drools all over everything. Along with the drool is spit bubbles. All the time.
-is a very lean little baby.
-still won't sleep through the night. Not even close. Sleeps 2-3 hours at a time.
-smiles at her big brother whenever she gets the chance.
-still hasn't laughed yet.
-is swaddled every night still.
-loves bath time.
-is a really happy, smiley, content baby.
-has had two bottles in her lifetime. Thinking I should start giving her more bottles just so she knows what they are. Hasn't tried formula yet.
-starting to outgrow 3-6 month clothing.
-is almost rolling. She gets her little body contorted all different ways.




Jessica thought that last picture looked like Greta was running so she did this picture for me. Here is Greta taking a run in the woods. LOL


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Funday Sunday

This week I'd like to share an all time favorite dish in our family. By "our family" I mean my parents and grandparents. Homemade macaroni and cheese is like the mother ship of all comfort food and my family likes to make this any chance they can. My mother has perfected the dish over the years and I'm still trying to make it as well as she does. I'm posting the version that I use that Wesley loves. I call it Mandy's Macaroni and Cheese: Toddler Style.



Mandy's Macaroni and Cheese: Toddler Style

-2 C. uncooked pasta
-3 T. Butter
-3 T. Flour
-1.5 C. Milk
-1.5 C. Shredded Cheese

First off, cook the pasta according to directions on the package. You can use the traditional elbow macaroni but my favorite is a pasta called fusilli, it's just a basic corkscrew style pasta. It's perfect for little toddler fingers and there is more surface area to be covered in sauce.

While the pasta is cooking make the sauce. In a small sauce pan melt the butter over low/medium low heat. Add the flour and stir it up, let it bubble and cook a little. Slowly whisk in the milk a half a cup at a time until it thickens up, this may take a few minutes. Then add the shredded cheese and stir it up until it's melted and smooth. Pour it over the cooked, drained pasta and stir. To make the perfect portions for Wesley, I grease up a muffin tin and divide up the mac and cheese into it. Cover it and place it in the freezer. Once frozen pop out each chunk and place in a freezer bag. Then just defrost a portion for lunch or an easy dinner for a toddler. They've come in handy and the kid gobbles it up. Happy eating!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wesley"isms"

    Wesley turned two and a half months old a couple of days ago and I'd thought I share what's happening in his life right now.

  • Wesley has blossomed into quite the cook lately. Let me back up, for several months his favorite book to read before nap time and bedtime was a Sesame Street book called "Vegetable Soup". It's all about Ernie and Bert making vegetable soup for Cookie Monster. So every night Wesley gets his "pots and pans" (Tupperware and old plastic containers) out of the cupboard and makes us vegetable soup. I give him a little cup of water and he stirs up all kinds of imaginary goodness with it. It's pretty cute. Then Sean and I pretend to sample his cuisine and rave about how tasty it is. Pretty cute stuff I tell ya.

  • He's also still in love with his hat collection. Thanks to his Granny Randi the collection is growing by leaps and bounds. I had to share one of his more hilarious hats from the collection. In this picture he's not wearing it correctly so you might not make out completely what it is:






    Yes, it's a turkey hat. She knitted it for him for Thanksgiving but in true to form, it took him a month to warm up to the idea of wearing a new hat. All hats have a warming up period. Some take longer than others. But as soon as that period is over they are graciously accepted into the collection.

  • Wesley loves his "big boy" room upstairs. The move has gone far more smoothly than I ever imagined. It's amazing how hyping something up as being "big boy" like can make him excited for it. For instance, me: "Take off your shoes please", him:"NO, I don't want to take off my shoes", me:"Big boys take off their own shoes", him:"Ok(takes off shoes)". He's still in his crib up there but I feel that he could be switched over to a toddler bed anytime now without much hassle. He just likes his crib so much. We'll see how many more months we can squeeze out of it.

  • The love for the Mr. Potato Head is still here. I just love this picture for the two silly men in it and for the priceless look on Greta's face as she ponders the strange plastic potato in front of her.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Afternoon Smiles

I shall make you endure more of the cuteness that is Greta. One of my favorite times of the day is mid afternoon when Greta and I have settled down on the couch, the house is quiet, Wesley is snoozing away and she takes a little nap. Then when she wakes up she plays on her floor gym and gives me the greatest smiles ever.



Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Freezing Fog

I woke up this morning to a frosted winter wonderland outside. It's known as freezing fog and it's quite something to see. I took my camera outside with me when I fed the animals and thought I'd share before it's all melted off.

Millions of tiny icicles


No birds visiting this frozen feeder today


"Come on Mom, quit taking our pictures and FEED us!"


Happy tails to you


The walnut grove encased in freezing fog

Monday, January 11, 2010

Like a kid in a candy store

Wesley has a little five gallon fish tank in his bedroom. A few months ago the light in it burned out so I went and bought a new bulb. I came home, put the bulb in and it still didn't work. So I did nothing at that point. The two little fish that lived in it sat in the darkness for several months. I felt this was no kind of life for them so I netted them out and plunked them into the 30 gallon tank in the living room. So there sat Wesley's poor empty dark tank in his room. Without a light it was kind of useless so I went and purchased him a new tank a couple of weeks ago. We set it up in his new bedroom and it's beautiful. The light works great and it's a wonderful night light for the kid. But, it's empty. I was waiting until this weekend so that it would have a week to age the water and be a good environment for a new little fish or two.

So yesterday morning once Wesley woke up we took a Mother/Son outing to the pet store. He was so excited to pick out a fish. This pet store deals in reptiles and fish...that's it. We walk in and immediately in front of us is a display cage with little teeny tiny tortoises in it. They are all happily eating lettuce and I'm just totally smitten. I'm pretty much a kid in a candy store when it comes to pet stores. These little guys were so cute, you have no idea. They are three weeks old and about the size of a chicken egg. I had lifted Wesley up to look at them when the store clerk came over and said "If you like those little guys you'll love the big one walking around the store." So we set out to find the "Big One". It didn't take too long, we turned a corner and there was this giant tortoise walking toward us down the isle. It was the coolest thing I've seen in quite some time. It was, literally, as big as the top of your stove. I squatted down and pointed to it and told Wesley to look at the tortoise. He's all "what tortoise?" And I'm all "The giant thing walking toward us that takes up the WHOLE isle!". You could tell he was looking somewhere else because he was walking slowly and then just stopped dead in his tracks. He just stood there and then said "We go somewhere else? NOW?" It was a hoot.

The tortoise was an African Spurred Tortoise and they get huge, fast. This one was eight years old and I could only pick it off the ground a few inches (I asked first of course). It had to be well over 65 pounds. When I was doing research on what species of tortoise to buy I seriously considered an African Spurred but decided on a Leopard Tortoise instead because they DON'T get huge very fast. Don't get me wrong, Cecil will hopefully get big eventually but over the span of 20+ years instead of 5 years.

It does make me want to get a baby African Spurred to keep Cecil company, I'm just afraid he'd outgrow their friendship too quickly. They aren't cheap either...the tiny babies are $160. The big adult that we saw walking around the store was $250. Oh how I'd love to have that thing, make a pen for it outside during the warm months and a pen in the basement during the winter. Sean, I'm afraid, has lost his sense of humor when it comes to pets though. Maybe I can revisit the idea once some of the hairy, four legged pets go to the big pet store in the sky. Anyways, it turned out to be a very neat visit to the pet store, one that Wesley won't forget for awhile. Oh and after all that, they didn't even have any fancy goldfish for his fish tank.

Isn't that cool?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Funday Sunday

My friend Jessica started this theme as a way of changing it up and offering a fun recipe on Sundays. I asked if I could join in and this is my first post. I'm going to offer easy, mostly nutritious recipes that my family loves and can usually be made while holding a baby. That might tell you how easy they are.

This recipe is for Chicken Tortilla Crock Pot Soup. It's a long name and it's super tasty. I love using the Crock Pot and have done so a lot since Greta was born. I have to add that I don't think this recipe belongs in the "soup" category at all, it's maybe more the consistency of a chili I think. But you be the judge!


Chicken Tortilla Crock Pot Soup

Boneless skinless chicken breasts (I use two, can be frozen)
One can black beans (drained and rinsed)
One can Rotel tomatoes
Two cans Ranch Style Beans
One can Corn (drained)
One cup Salsa
Taco seasonings (half a packet, I use the low sodium version)

That's it. Open all the cans and pour them into your crock pot along with the taco seasonings, stir. Place the chicken breasts on top. You can even use frozen chicken breasts (have I said how super easy this recipe is?). Cook over low heat for 8 hours or high heat for 4 hours. Half and hour before you eat take the chicken breasts out and shred them. I do this by taking two forks, piercing the chicken with one and using the other to shred. Place the shredded chicken back in the crock pot and stir it up. Serve it up over tortilla chips and topped with shredded cheese. Super delicious!
*hint: if you like a creamier soup, just stir in a scoop of cream cheese or sour cream into the crock pot a few minutes before it's served. Yum!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Personal Picks



Cozy Cover:
With this winter being wicked cold I absolutely love this product. I bought it during the summer and just took it out of storage about a month ago. Little Greta is toasty warm snuggled up in her car seat with this cover on. After doing much research I found that this sort of car seat cover is safety approved unlike some of the covers that go underneath the baby. These are known as the "shower cap" covers as they just fit over the top of the seat. Anyways, if you have an infant during the cold winter months this is a must in my book.



PS3:
Boy are we having fun with this little piece of equipment. Santa brought us this for Christmas and it's far cooler than either Sean or I thought it would be. For one, you can hook a network cable up to it and surf the internet while sitting on the couch. That's cool. Two, of course it plays some really neat games. The graphics are spectacular. And third, unbeknown to us, the unit connects with Sean's computer in the basement and allows us to view recorded programs....it works as a DVR for us. Really nice little game console.


Mr. Potato Head:
Wesley got two of these for Christmas and he absolutely loves them! By far his favorite toy. We sit around and play with the two potato heads every day. I guess two and a half is the age of the Potato Head. Now we just need to get a Mrs. Potato Head.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Greta's New Room

I'm happy to say that Greta slept her first night in her own room last night. It is sooo nice to have her out of our bedroom. I didn't realize how quiet I had to be in there until she moved out. It's so refreshing. She slept a lot better as well. She only woke up twice, the first one being at 4 am. Looks like we should have done this a long time ago. Oh well, live and learn.

We got Wesley's old room all cleaned out and vacuumed which turned out to be quite the feat. I didn't think he had so many toys until we started cleaning it out. Now I'm stuck deciding where to shift all this junk, inevitably it will all travel downstairs. The basement, to me, has become a graveyard of all the old toys....but to Wesley has become an awesome playroom. It's nice that he can go down there and play to his hearts content and then I don't have to clean it up nightly like I do the living room.

Anyways, back to Greta's room...we got her crib and the recliner (the essentials) moved in there late last night and that's as far as we got. The room needs some work. It reminds me of when I moved into my first apartment in college and I walked in to find scuffed paint and holes in the wall (it was kind of a dump, but that's college for ya). It was shocking how destroyed that room became in the two and a half years that Wesley lived in it. Toddlers, especially little boy toddlers, are hard on everything they touch. So here starts the renovation of Wesley's old room into Greta's new room. I'm going to repaint since the peachy color that is in there clashes rather horridly with anything pink. I was thinking about painting it a light yellow but then I ran across this picture and fell in love with the wall color.



Yea, I know it's pink. I am so not the kind of person to paint my little girls room pink but I'm going to. My Mother-in-law just threw up a little in her mouth. It's an antique rose color, has a little more peach to it than baby pink and I think it will be adorable. I'm going to have her white dresser in there and white crib and will put some rose panel drapes on the windows. It will be the cutest little girl room.

My sister told me about some wall decorations awhile back, they are wall decals of sayings that adhere to the wall. I'm sure you've seen them. I've been researching them for a few days now and found one that says "Thank Heavens for Little Girls". It so reminds me of my Grandmother and would love to put it above her crib yet I'm not sure I want to spend the money, they run $47 including shipping. Seems like a lot for a big sticker...call me cheap. SO, I started thinking "Hey I can do that!". Hello, I do have a degree in Illustration and Design. Pretty sure I can paint on a wall. Not sure I want to paint a bunch of lettering but it did open up a whole new world of ideas. I found this that I love:



That would be super easy to paint. Make it white against the antique rose wall color...love it! Can you tell I'm getting pumped to redo her room? Most people decorate before the baby arrives, I do it three months out. I'm also going to paint her initials cursively above her crib. Fun fun. Now I just have to magically find the time, that's the hard part.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Busy busy

So I mentioned on my last post that Wesley was moving upstairs this weekend. It's official, he's now in his big boy room. I have to admit I never thought it would be so much work to move his room upstairs. It's not that the actual moving part took a lot of work, it was the preparation part. The room he moved into was our old office when we moved in six years ago and over the past couple of years it's become the "I don't know where else to put this so it's going in this room" room. I'm sure you have one of those rooms too....the junk room. It took us all day Friday just to clean all the junk out. We have quite the trash pile to go out to the curb this week.

So when it was all cleaned out we started looking around the room and noticed the electrical outlets needed some work. So after a trip into the local hardware store, Sean put in new outlets and covers to spruce up the room. We also got a new ceiling fan to replace the eighties version that was in there (think ugly brass behemoth). We added some wood blinds to the windows to finish out the room. It looks really nice and Wesley is thrilled with his new room. We really had to hype it up that he was moving upstairs into a big boy room and moving out of his baby room. And that Greta is going to move into his old baby room.

So all weekend he asked when he was going to move up to his new room and this morning after he woke up we moved his furniture up while Greta was still sleeping. He took his nap up there with no problems and all seems well. We still have a lot of cleaning to do to his old room before Greta moves in. I also want to make it a little "girly" and decorate it up all cute for her. That should be fun.
It's nice to have one kid moved into the room they'll be in until they move off to college. One down, one to go!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: The Year of the Sleep

Sean and I have a plan for the next three days. Today we are going to clean out the upstairs office. Saturday we are moving Wesley's room into the office. Sunday we are moving Greta out of our room and into Wesley's old room. She will officially be sleeping in her own room by the end of the weekend. We just can't take it anymore. She has decided that sleeping anymore than an hour and twenty minutes during the night is for the birds. I tell you, she wakes up almost exactly every hour and twenty minutes. It's enough to make a person mad.

For some reason since Christmas this has been happening and I can't seem to put my finger on why. She used to go 4+ hours between wakings. I think it's because she's done with being swaddled. By the third waking every night she's worked her little hand out and will be sucking on it. That's with the swaddling blanket as tight as I can make it. So last night I decided to start weaning her out of the swaddling. I took her little arms and pulled them out at 4 am and swaddled her as usual. She wouldn't go back to sleep at all. She just laid in her crib and whined. Needless to say I'm totally exhausted. I hope by getting her into her own room she can cry it out at least one or two times a night and let her start to put herself back to sleep.
My New Years Resolution? To get some sleep!