Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It started with a small idea

And ended up being a BIG project.
One that has taken us a couple days already.
And we still aren't completely finished.

Hanna's house still needs the roof put on. But she started decorating the outside of her house while I was helping the other two get the inner structures done.

Emma's house also needs a roof. But at least we got the basic structure done.

I was so happy that everything (for the most part) turned out how they wanted it to. The chandeliers were a cute touch.

I have to say that I like Eden's house the best so far and I think that is mainly because I love the attic. The houses look so much better with the roof on.

She also had me cut out a doorway for her little balcony she made. Awesome.

The rooms they did were so cute.

Emma's cherry heart room

Emma's "space" room, as she calls it. Not sure why. It has a gold floor and gold trim, maybe that's why?

Eden's damask chandelier room with the balcony, my personal favorite.

 Hanna's theater room was fun.

These were just a few I wanted to share.

So proud of their creativity!
Like I said, this was a big project. I knew it was going to be a lot of work. But we needed something to occupy our time over break. And once we get involved in a project, we all just want to work and work and work until it's done. Thankfully we all are alike in that respect. That was the way it happened with the home made dolls. Remember that post?

Anyway, as soon as I stumbled downstairs this morning, I was recruited into helping with the houses we'd started the previous day. We must have been in our pjs until almost noon. Eating was quick bites here and there. The day was spent solely on getting these houses done.
And we still aren't completely done. There are many cute finishing touches that need to be added.
And these are the things that I'm excited about. Really making them individual and whimsical and quirky.
I suppose we will be doing that most of the day tomorrow. At least until 3:00 - because that's when my mini vacation with the girls begins. Checking in to a hotel and swimming 'till they kick us out!
So far, spring break has been awesome.
I'm glad we've been able to spend so much time together doing something fun instead of each of us off doing our own thing. I'm glad I had that lightbulb moment.
As Hanna said, "I'm so glad you thought of this awesome idea!".
And she doesn't say that kind of thing very often ;)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Loopy for Loopsy!

LaLaLoopsy, that is! Have you heard of these dolls? LaLaLoopsy. They come in big doll size, baby doll size, tiny size and plush. My girls are absolutely GAGA for the tiny sized dolls. They have 32 of them.

They are adorable. I am just as smitten with them. Whenever I see a new doll at the store that I know they don't have, I want to buy it. It all started Valentine's day 1 year ago. In their goodie bags I put a cute little LaLaLoopsy doll for each of them. And the addiction took off from there.

They come in cute little characters (see Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter above). And there are boy dolls too, although we don't have too many of those.

The girls are always playing with these dolls. And each doll comes with mini pets and cute little accessories (ex: paint brush, chalk board, food, etc) and so needless to say, there is a LOT of loopsy all over, all the time. So I had this idea; wouldn't it be fun to make our own LaLaLoopsy houses???

 So off to Walmart we went to replenish our craft bin a bit with things we could use to make the whimsical houses. We found cute fabric, patterned duct tape, buttons, stickers, flowers and all sorts of fun things we could use. Then we came home and spent the afternoon working on the houses.

Below is the shell of Emma's house. There will be 3 floors, 2 rooms on each floor. What you see are the painted walls of two of the middle rooms, and the flooring below.

This next picture is the start of Eden's house. She wanted an attic with plush red carpet and when it's all put together we'll add some special funky touches, like the hanging ball ribbon you see there.

Cutting the cardboard for 3 houses was a PAIN in the BUTT. However, once they were able to start working on the interior of the houses and I got to see them creating and using their imaginations, it was all worth it. A fun project that will last a few days and the computer is all but a memory ;)

They wanted me to take a picture of their dolls to show you. They are quite proud of them.

Looks like someone vomited cute all over my carpet.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What to do

I just read the Pioneer Woman's food blog for the day. And turns out, she made Puttanesca last night. What a coinkydink - so did I! Because I, too, love puttanesca. I love the olives and the capers in the sauce. Because it makes it salty. And I love salt. Way too much. p.s. this has nothing to do with what I was going to blog about whatsoever.

So did you hit the play button on the video I posted yesterday? I didn't even title it, I wanted it to be a surprise. Cuz it surprised me. The Heart Attack Grill. I have to admit, the decor being like a hospital, wearing hospital gowns, nurses for waitstaff, and naming their food after bypass surgeries, is a tad clever. But it's not really all that funny when your 500+ pound spokesmodel in the commercials promoting your business drops dead at 29. That's just sad. I'm not one to be overly sensative about things. I don't get offended easily. You can say pretty much any word in the dictionary, even fake words from Spongebob like "wumbo" and chances are I'm not going to get my panties in a wad over it. But this cafe, clever as it may be, is almost pushing it for me. Because it's life and death. And you all know how I like to promote health through nutrition (I say as I'm gulping down a freshly juiced glass of veggies). p.s. this has nothing to do with what I was going to blog about either!

What I wanted to blog about was this:

My children have the next 9 days off. Yay! I've been as excited as they have been all week. Emma keeps asking, "Is THIS the last day of school??" It's so cute. Although, I'm sure that my excitement will wear off quickly once they are fighting and screaming and being annoying in general. Just kidding, my kids are never like that. Just kidding.

So anyway, I've been thinking that I should have some sort of planned activities to keep their little selves occupied. But then I thought, come on, you are a procrastinator, not a planner. Needless to say, I still don't have any awesome super-mom activities all lined up and ready to go. Because, you know what, they'd probably spend 2 minutes doing them before complaining of bordem and begging to play on the computer. This will happen regardless. I'm thinking of hiding the computer for the next 9 days, just so I don't have to listen to them ask to play it ALL day long. But then I'd have to hide my laptop too. And by the second day, we'd all be trying to dig out the Datapoint 2200 from the basement (no we don't really have one in our basement). But we do have an old cpu down there. No monitor though, I don't think.

I did, however, book a hotel for the kids and I. See, I AM supermom after all! And I don't have to do ANYTHING. Fresh clean sheets on the bed, room service, swimming.....and I don't have to lift a finger. And the it! They've actually been begging to take a little trip somewhere just to get to stay at a hotel and we've been stringing them along. Welllllll, maaaaaaaaybe we'll go to Minneapolis for a 4 day weekend or maaaaaaaaybe we'll drive to Omaha to see Unca Dave or maaaaaaybe we'll drive to Bismarck to see 'Manda. But with this weather being so unpredictable lately and 2 out of my 3 kids tending to get car sick just going to Target, a drive lasting longer than 2 hours no matter how fun the destination, didn't appeal to me. So we'll do what we always do when we want a little mini vacay, book a hotel right here in town. And that's what we did.

So next week I'm packing up my ankle biters and we're headed to the Ramada for a little waterslide action. And possibly room service that includes Basie's to-die-for chocolate layer cake. Seriously, this cake is the tastiest thing that has hit my tongue in all of my 37 years. But what about Lent? Oh yeah, I sort of gave up chocolate for Lent. Wellllll, I'm sure God will understand. I'm human. And I'm pretty sure he knows how good that cake is.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

nothing is certain

I think I know what it feels like to have a heart attack.

Every day, when I send my kids out the door to school, one of the things I always shout after them is I love you. The other is, watch for cars backing out of their driveways. Neither one of which I think they hear because their winter hats are covering their sweet little ears. And because as soon as they are out the door they bolt to the bus stop like they were going to win a prize for getting their first.

As luck would have it, every day at the exact same time my kids are running to the bus stop, our neighbor is leaving for work. And so of course, this is the main reason I am always telling them to make sure they LOOK.

Today, Eden and Emma were walking down the sidewalk, but all of a sudden, Eden gets the urge to run. As usual. Whether she feels the need to get to the bus stop before her 5 year old sister or she is just afraid she's going to miss the bus, I'm not sure. But she bolts and leaves Emma in the dust. So Emma of course starts running too. Not paying any attention whatsoever to the car backing out of our neighbor's driveway.

Well, I am surprised that our front room window is still in tact because I was trying to pound my way through it to save my baby from being run over in front of my eyes. Luckily our neighbor saw Emma and stopped, just in the nick of time, I might add.

I can't even describe the horror I felt in that moment. Watching helpless from the window. I wanted to run out of the house and scold my neighbor, who did nothing wrong. I wanted to scold Eden for starting to run. I wanted to scold Emma for not listening to my words of warning, that I've spoken at least 400 times, about cars backing out of driveways! I wanted to scream at everyone for what could have been an unspeakable and tragic accident.

But, I watched my babies get on the bus. Then I waved at them as they drove past the house on 25th street, like I do every day. And I watched them get off the bus at school, safe and sound. I love living so close to the school that I can watch them. And it helps that Emma has bright fluorescent green snow pants, I could spot her anywhere!

Thank GOD they are safe. And maybe I am making a mountain out of a molehill here, because nothing happened. But I still feel butterflies as I type this. Every parent's biggest fear is that their child will get hurt. And I feel like I have been so lucky and so blessed in a safe little bubble while tragedies are happening to families all over the world.

Hug and kiss your little ones like there is no tomorrow (I know you already do), because nothing is certain.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My favorite winter meal

Oven roasted winter vegetables & chicken thighs

You start by halving brussel sprouts, and chunking yams and beets into
bite size pieces.
(I will blanch my veggies for a couple minutes just because I like to)

Aren't those colors beautiful?!?!

Put them in a bowl and coat them with some olive oil.
Transfer them to a roasting pan lined with tin foil (and sprayed with olive oil)
and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them.

Next you salt and pepper (generously) both sides of boneless chicken thighs
and get a good golden color on both sides in a hot pan.

Then you lay the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables

Pop the pan in the oven
375 degrees for 40 minutes
Depending on how you like your vegetables (and whether or not you blanch them first)
you may want to cook them longer. Mine are nice and tender at 40 minutes. Also, if
your oven is too hot, the brussel sprouts might burn. I think that blanching first
also helps with that. But I could be just blowing smoke, I'm no professional
cook or anything.

But the end result is a beautiful plate of healthy, hearty vegetables and succulent chicken.
It is truly a favorite in this house.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

pan seared tilapia

There is one thing I would LOVE to learn how to do. Cook fish and make it taste good.

I struggle with this, I admit it. Probably because I don't practice enough. And I don't practice enough because every time I try to cook fish, it turns out horribly, no one likes it and we end up starving the rest of the night.

I think a lot of people tend to shy away from eating fish because they are afraid it will taste "fishy". I mean, it's fish, shouldn't it taste a little, teensy weensy bit fishy? NO! Fresh fish is not supposed to taste fishy. With the exception of canned tuna, but that's not exactly "fresh" is it.

Anyway, so in one of my favorite *blogs that I read every day, the writer gave an example of what she might eat in a day. And one of those things was pan seared tilapia.

"Pan seared tilapia.", I said to myself, as though this was a brilliant brand new invention. Why the hell have I never thought of that?

No no, we must bake or boil or broil everything. (oh, and grill in the summer)

Seriously, the pictures of her pan seared fish slapped me in the face with a fish. It looked so good! Except that she turned hers into soup, I was just interested in the fish part.

Side bar: Have you ever watched Veggie Tales? In the one that tells the story of Jonah, they make reference to bad people slapping other people with fish. Just thought I'd share that.

Not that I think she's a bad person who is slapping me in the face with fish. It was more like a "Hello McFly! You can actually cook fish and make it taste good! DUH!"

I was so inspired by this that on my way to the store to pick up strictly dog food (I say strictly because I've been grocery shopping a lot lately and also, Lizzy was completely out of food) I also stopped by the fresh fish counter and had them wrap me up a couple of tilapia fillets. Which is something I never do, convinced by my husband, the most knowledgeable man in the world, that fish is NOT fresh. But for a split second, I questioned whether or not he was, in fact, the most knowledgeable man in the world, and I decided that part of my horrible tasting fish problem might come from the fact that I ALWAYS buy a bag.....with 3 scrawny little fillets of fish. And they never taste good.

I came home with my prize, took out the trusty old iron pan and seared me up some tilapia. And it was GOOD! I mean reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally good!

"Hooray!" I shouted to no one in particular. Then I slipped on dog drool.

Lizzy thought my cooking was marvelous as well. She can't stop drooling over it. I let her have some. She's a big fan.

Here it is, searing away. (yes, I chunked it)

And here it is, getting ready to be digested.

You'll have to bear with me on the horrible food photography. I was so hungry I just wanted to snap a couple to prove that I actually successfully cooked fish and then get on with the eating of the fish.


Now, I know that pan searing one type of fish and making it good (more like freakin' awesome!) does not qualify me as an Iron Chef or anything like that, but I feel confident that I can cook this, serve it to my family, and not be made to hear of their gastrointestinal distress later.

And, if you have any other EASY ways to cook other kinds of fish, I would kindly like to learn how to do that as well. Did I mention it had to be EASY? Not that I can't handle a difficult recipe from time to time but let's face it, I don't always want to pretend I'm Julia Child or have an ingredient list two pages long.

Simple fish. I should master this, and write a cookbook with that name... "Simple Fish".

*note: the blog in which I am referring to is Ready in 5 (weeks) and it is listed on the sidebar of my fitness blog under "fit blogs I love". 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's day.... has become all about the kids.
But for some reason, I'm ok with that. It's not like I wouldn't
love to have a romantic candlelit dinner
at some fancy restaurant with my husband, but we can
do that anytime we want, really. We don't need a specific day to tell us when to do it.
And the kids love it when we make holiday's special.
Valentine's Day isn't really a holiday, but you know what I mean.
Any excuse to do things a bit out of the ordinary, go
a little out of your way to make it special for them.....
they eat that stuff up!
And no, I don't think I'm spoiling them.

So we have found this wine where the alcohol has been removed and have been getting it for the kids
for all special occasions lately. I think it's "fancier" than sparkling grape juice. The only concern
I have is that the kids tell their friends they have "wine" but neglect to tell them about the
"non-alcoholic" part and soon social services is knocking on my door.


Our table probably wasn't as fancy as it has been in the past. Most of our stuff is recycled. Like the fake flower petals and of course the table cloth. I went for paper plates
this year, partly because I knew we were having pizza and partly because I'm lazy
and don't want to clean up dishes.
You should see the disaster I woke up to this morning.
I thought that maybe the girls might find it in their hearts to do the dishes for me
on Valentine's Day, but no.
The after party is much less glamorous.

Hanna's pizza. She looks excited.

Emma was trying really hard to drop hers on the floor. Luckily, no disasters of that type.

Eden's pizza. Vegetarian, of course.

Then it was time to demonstrate how to drink "fancy". This is Emma's version. Like Patrick, when in doubt, pinky out. Yes, my kids watch Spongebob. The horror!

And Eden's version of drinking "fancy".

All in all the 2nd annual heart-shaped Valentine's pizza extravaganza was a success.
The only bummer was I didn't find any new LaLaLoopsy dolls
that I was hoping to stuff in the little one's
gift bags. They have pretty much all of them and so it gets harder
and harder to find the ones they don't have.
They are working on the "whole collection" as they call it.
I stuck to my vow of not over doing it with the chocolate. So proud of myself.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Drum roll please

Style #5 - a heart shaped goatee
just in time for Valentine's Day
how clever

Monday, February 13, 2012

5 styles in 5 days continued...

I think we left off at day 3. So here it is, the 3rd style. He's gotten rid of the chops.

Now we're getting to the good part. This is his "French GuyE" look as Eden calls it. (you are to stress the E on the end of guyE)
He also got a hair cut so he looks very.....
I still can't come up with anything to describe his look without using "evil" or "robot devil"

I had to get a picture of Eden too. Just because we laughed so much over the "French guyE" thing.

Of course the grand finale of this whole thing is tomorrow. I know what he is planning on doing. And you may think you know, but you have NO idea.....

Oh, and let me just add that someone at work made him a cake. A round cake, the face of a man, complete with a beard. Beardo.
I want to post the picture however just FYI, I didn't make the cake, I didn't take the photo of the cake, I don't even know who the person is who made it. But it's too funny not to share.

I'm sorry I can't give proper credit to the creator.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

5 styles in 5 days

It has begun.....

My husband started growing a beard late last year. I don't remember exactly when, November maybe? And as it grew, I sort of liked it. I asked him to keep it. He looked sexy. Even my mom said so. I think it was at that point he wanted to shave it off...hehe. But, he said he'd keep it for a while, because I liked it so much. But after Christmas, it would be histroy.

Well, here it is, February, and he still has it.

It's quite bushy. I said that to him one day. "Your beard is.....really......poufy."

"You want me to shave it?"

"Ehhhhh...." - translation, yes

Of course back in December he had talked about doing this thing he called "5 styles in 5 days" where he would start shaving his beard piece by piece, giving himself a new look each day.

"OMG, you're coworkers are going to eat that up!" I said.

They already call him Yeti.

Anyway, 5 styles in 5 days has begun. And I've got photos (of course). Unfortunately, I did NOT take a before picture which is kind of sad. Because then you can't really get the full effect of the "pouf".

"You can just photoshop it." he says to me. Clearly this man thinks a little too highly of my photoshopping skills. But whatever, I'll do a quick and dirty version.

This is basically what it looked like "before". Although I didn't do the "pouf" justice.

His 1st style was to trim the pouf. 

2nd style was to add some "chops"

Style'll just have to wait and see!