Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's pretty quiet here in blogland...

'cause momma has a new toy!!! Now if I could just figure out how to work it.

Here are a few playing-with-settings shots:

So, um, if you aren't doing anything feel free to stop by so I can take about 50 bajillion pictures of you doing random things, in different light, and at different speeds. I think my subjects are getting tired of having a camera in their face.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Has Been Thoroughly Welcomed

Easter weekend for us was crammed full of fun activities and I now feel like we have done all we can to let Spring know that she is truly welcome. (of course, maybe she didn't get the memo since its been 35 degrees the last two mornings). We went off with one of the girls' best friends and her mom to see Horton Hears a Who on Saturday morning. I wouldn't usually say going to see a movie is a good way to celebrate a new season, but the story was such a childhood favorite and feeling like a kid again definitely puts a "spring" in your step (sorry, couldn't resist). We had our neighborhood egg hunt along with gorgeous weather...

and got up Easter morning to hunt more eggs and make ourselves sick with Easter basket candy. A little spring cleaning and a lot of cooking ended with a scrumptious meal with the fam, and to top it all off a bunny cake decorating competition. I'm just proud that I remembered to use the bunny cake pan I picked up on a whim back in February, usually that kind of thing gets stashed somewhere and completely forgotten. Some days I'm on top of my game, some days not so much. But then I did give everyone tubes of gel food coloring to decorate with instead of the cake decorating gel that I thought they were, so maybe I shouldn't get too pleased with myself. It was fun to laugh at everyone's green and blue teeth though.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shutter Sisters Photo Challenge: Get on the Floor

I liked these two pictures that Jay took when we were out playing a few days ago, and they happen to fit the latest Shutter Sisters post perfectly. I'm going to have to go find a Shutter Brothers website if I keep posting his pics though. Well, they are of me...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Traditions, New and Old

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. -Margaret Atwood

The first day of spring makes me truly giddy. So much anticipation focused on tiny little buds, a hardly containable yearning for when the green will return and the warm sun will be felt again. I can appreciate winter, it has its own barren beauty and I am always fascinated by the quiet and peace that comes with a blanket of snow, but it is the magic of renewal, rebirth and an abundance of light that awakens my soul and commences a flurry of foraging nature walks, gardening book perusal and dreams of coaxing things from the earth. This year I wanted to do something for the equinox that really translated all these thoughts into something tangible for the girls, and if these grow like I hope they will, then this will be a yearly tradition...

It really feels like waiting for something to hatch, fun! And yes, I have had eggs for breakfast every day this week.

Of course we have other traditions too, like getting out the egg tree and decorating it with the spring Barbie ornaments sent a couple of years ago by Nana Dee. These ladies in their fancy frocks are always fun:

It was quite chilly today, but a brisk tromp through the yard revealed a great deal of quiet activity. Most impressive is the archway into the back yard, the Lady Banks rose needs a serious haircut, but I just can't bring myself to do it until after it blooms (even though you can hardly walk through the gate), it is COVERED in these:

We have been in this house a year, and with the changing of each season and for all the holidays we have decorated the big picture window. It is quickly becoming another ritual marking of time. We spend a lot of time at this window, relaxing (it has one of the most comfortable seats in the house), reading, bird and squirrel watching, nature watching. It feels right to dress it accordingly as we watch the scene continuously changing through its glass.

Throughout the last growing season I watched patiently to see what was already here in the yard from the previous owners, and there are some great things, but this season I am very much itching to get my hands dirty. Welcome Spring, I've looked forward to your return.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Superhero Photo Challenge: Eyes Closed

Jay took this picture last week when I was crazy sick and he was entertaining the girls outside (or they were entertaining him, not sure). I love it. When I was a kid I liked to swing with my eyes closed too, and I think this picture captures the perfect little smile that goes along with that feeling.

The Shutter Sisters blog is one of my favorite places to visit on the web, they post lots of challenges that make you really think about how you take photos, you can find other entries to this Sunday's challenge in the comments of this post.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Do You Know Quinoa? It's the Supergrain of the Future!

If you made that rhyme then you are TOTALLY saying it wrong. Geez, it's such a task educating you people. You see, I am a Quinoa expert, because I have made it one whole time! Well, and because the box tells me it is pronounced KEEN-WA. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago Jay was skipping around the internet and addressed me with a strange "have you ever heard of KEEN-WA" question. My blank expression most likely gave him my answer and he went on to tell me that the Men's Health website had an article about how healthy of a grain it is, that it contains more protein than any other grain. He was intrigued and said he was going to get some to try, I was back to looking at sock animal patterns on my own computer. Well, sure enough, the other day he returned home from work smiling at his success in procuring Quinoa from the local Fresh Market. Then it sat around until I got a wild hair to actually cook some up. I'm thinking this was his evil plan from the beginning. Instead of having rice with my barbeque pineapple chicken I was making, I noticed that the Quinoa box said you can make it in the rice cooker so I threw some in. Then I went for a quick look on to see if there were any interesting suggestions for how to use it and wasn't very inspired. All the recipes seemed to pair it with other veggies, so I excavated the veggie drawer and came up with a red pepper, some spinach, baby carrots, and a can of corn. Sneaky Quinoa Pilaf was born:

As mentioned, the Quinoa was cooked in the rice cooker. Came out looking like this, pretty boring, huh?

I started the jazzing up by putting a liberal amount of spinach in the bowl.

I added the hot Quinoa and topped that with a healthy dose of butter and cheese (I had a little Italian 6 cheese blend and a little mozzarella in the fridge, both went in). Butter and cheese make everything better is a motto I live by.

Next went the chopped baby carrots and red pepper, these I steamed in the microwave for four minutes first. Half a can of corn was dumped on top. Isn't it pretty?!

I added some miscellaneous seasonings (garlic, pepper, oregano), sprinkled a little cheese on top of it all and popped it in the oven next to my chicken for about ten minutes.

Voila! Sneaky Quinoa Pilaf and Pineapple Barbque Chicken.

Loved by 4 year olds everywhere! (she really did like it and asked for seconds). The 6 year old was simply horrified.

The Quinoa pamphlet in the box describes it as having a pleasing nutty flavor. Um, not so much. Really it has what Jay and I would describe as an absence of flavor. Not a bad thing, it tastes like whatever you add to it. The only thing we would change about this recipe is to cook the Quinoa in chicken or vegetable broth instead of water, it needed salt and I think the broth would add just the right amount along with some flavor. I was commenting while eating it that it would be very tasty in a risotto type recipe and sure enough there is a "Quinoa Risotto Milanese" recipe right in afore mentioned pamphlet! That will be next week's adventure.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Great Provider

Let me tell you why I am a rock star today. I made clothing for my children. From like, scratch. That they can wear and stuff! And, hopefully, not even be embarrassed in, because they are the super cutest little skirts EVER! (obviously I have never made a piece of clothing in my life). As another distraction from the quilt I am currently hard at work on, and hopefully to fill the need for a quick project completion, I decided yesterday afternoon to finally whip up a couple of skirts from the pattern that has been lurking on my sewing table since last October. The pattern can be found here on the lovely Grand Revival blog. This pattern is soooo easy (well, once you figure out how to make a ruffle) and I finished both skirts in a few hours. It would have gone faster if not for the whole ruffle learning curve and one could easily be made in an evening. Luckily warm weather (skirt weather) is coming because I definitely see more of these in the girls' future. Except I have a quilt to quilt. Skirts, no. Quilt, yes. Must focus. Hopefully it will be showing up here soon, I'm ready to let this one go live its intended life on the couch and off my sewing machine.

Goes with mandatory pink cow-girl boots... check.

Good twirl factor... check.

I actually made both skirts the same size. Jumbo Shrimp is not at all thrilled that Popcorn Shrimp is catching up to her in height.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Camo Kitty

Whipped up another pointy kitty last Wednesday. This one is for my uncle, who when he saw a picture of all of us with our pointy kitties on our heads from Valentine's day sent an email that only said, "Where's my f***ing pointy kitty", subtle as usual. Mom and I decided that he definitely did need a kitty since they have made Christmas crafts for the whole family many years past and actually enjoy handmade things, so another kitty was born in extremely appropriate camouflage fabric. (Mom came over and motivated me out of my post-flu funk and we did this one in a few hours). Kitties were given out at the family birthday party last night and I think well received. I also managed to let go of the sunflower quilt to pass it on to its intended recipient (it was hard, it looked really nice hanging at the top of my stairs!) and I think it was a big hit too.

Monday, March 3, 2008

32 Is Fine With Me

I had great plans for yesterday, plans to make it a truly perfect day. A perfect day, to me, would involve sleeping late, breakfast in bed, going to the park to play with Jay and crazy giggly girls, some quiet time sewing or reading a book, a nice dinner, a shared bottle of wine... well, the absolutely only thing I did yesterday was turn

I spent the entire weekend with the flu. The I-can't-lift-my-head kind of flu. The this-is-why-they-make-flu-shots kind of flu. It really, really sucked. The girls bopped into my sick quarantine room Sunday morning all excited asking me if I was ready to open my presents. It was pitiful, Jay practically had to help me rip the paper. But all of their gifts were so thoughtful and sweet that they really did help. The flu without gifts would suck even more.

So, after a couple of days feeling like I was one hundred and two, I am now perfectly happy to be 32. Happy and soon to be healthy, and feeling really blessed. Oh, and once I was able to get out of bed without the room spinning there was this:

pinata action and the gift of an absurdly beautiful 73 degree afternoon...

The dress was picked out today because it was "beach party" day at preschool, but it ended up being weather appropriate.