Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas projects

Uncle Phillip gave the boys awesome paintable projects for Christmas. Jonathan received a pirate ship, Thomas a rocket, and Josiah an assortment of simpler wooden shapes.

All three boys really enjoy painting. Josiah is just learning the beginnings of how to use the brush. He tends to get more paint on his hands than on the object, but hey, you have to start somewhere!

Thomas has a very specific vision in mind. He takes his time and focuses intently.

Jonathan is experimenting with multi-media. His pirate ship is partly painted, partly crayoned, and partly colored with marker. He's used both regular paint brushes and round foam brushes to create interesting effects.

Thanks, Uncle Phillip, for a really great gift!


This beat-up pair of Gabe's jeans:

Became a totally cute little pouch:

For his Christmas Kindle!

(Kindle cases sell for $35 and have terrible reviews. Mine took about an hour to make and cost nothing!)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Real Food Basics (giveaway!) - UPDATED

When I first got interested in nutrition, I started reading a lot. I read lots of books and I read lots of blogs, and the first thing I learned was this:

nutrition bloggers tended to go seriously overboard.

Their passion is commendable, and I'm grateful that they're willing to take the time to share their experience and ideas. But when someone says that there is just nothing better than "eggnog" made with water, cashews, and sea moss instead of milk, eggs, and sugar...well, that's a little much for me to swallow! :) There is an "all or nothing" mentality in the world of nutrition bloggers that can be pretty overwhelming, especially initially.

But maybe you're interested in healthier eating, like I was. And maybe you'd like to find a way to improve your family's diet without your family rebelling and refusing to eat anything you cook! Maybe you'd like to find one or two information sources that condense a myriad of nutrition websites into one easy-to-read format.

If so, you'll want to keep reading, because I get to give away a copy of an e-book that does just that!

I've been reading Kate's blog, Modern Alternative Mama, for some time now. I like her style and I like the topics she writes about - everything from nutrition to healthy pregnancies to "hot topics" like TSA body scanners. I don't always agree with her, but that keeps things interesting! :)

Kate sent me a complimentary copy of her new e-book, In The Kitchen: Real Food Basics, and asked me to review it. Since this is the first time I've ever been asked to review anything at all, and she's one of my favorite bloggers, and reviewing things makes me a for real blogger (right?) I was more than happy to oblige. Actually maybe I danced around my living room a little bit.

In The Kitchen: Real Food Basics, is aptly named. Kate's goal is to give you a basic understanding of real food nutrition, without overwhelming you with all the details. If you've been studying nutrition for a year or two, as I have, you might find it somewhat lacking in specifics, studies, and footnoted research. But those just starting out will appreciate the conversational style and simple "let's get you started" ideas.

Your family will appreciate Kate's recipes. No sea moss to be found here! Rather, Kate gives you adapted versions of classic, yummy staples: chicken soup, meatballs, biscuits and gravy, pizza, chocolate chip cookies. ("What?" you say, "I thought this was supposed to be about healthy eating!?") And it is! Really! You'll just have to read the book! ;)

To be honest, I don't agree 100% with everything in it. Kate is heavily influenced by Weston A. Price, which I am not. She believes in sprouting all grains and using them less frequently than I do. And I have to admit that I'm not brave enough to try kombucha yet, although she swears by it! But overall this is a fine introduction to whole, real foods.

And one lucky reader gets to win their very own copy! I'm making entering easy, because I hate complicated giveaways. So all you have to do is leave a comment here, telling me one thing you've changed recently in pursuit of better nutrition.

Good luck!

UPDATED to add: the giveaway will run through January 2nd, and I'll choose a (random) winner sometime on Monday the 3rd.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Advent, popcorn strings

I wasn't sure if the boys were quite ready for stringing popcorn, but it is so much fun we had to try it anyway. :)

Thomas thought that eating the popcorn was awesome. Stringing it? Not so much!

But Jonathan surprised me. Not only is he quite dexterous enough to string it, he also stayed focused for a long time.

We only got one long string made, but it was a wonderful afternoon.

Advent, through Jonathan's eyes

Merry Christmas!!

Photo credit: Jonathan Moothart

Friday, December 24, 2010

Stellar deal on coconut oil!

I usually purchase coconut oil through Amazon. With their subscribe and save option, it is (generally) far cheaper than anywhere else. HOWEVER, today Tropical Traditions is offering an amazing deal! Collin of Hip2Save has the details here. Jump on it quick, because it is only good through the 26th, and only "while supplies last".

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent, Mary Sunday

Jonathan wanted to make a star for the top of the tree. He cut it out by himself and stapled it with minimal help. It turned out beautifully.

Decorating the tree...

This year Josiah is old enough to put ornaments on all by himself!

We turned on Christmas music - Welcome All Wonders by JAC Redford - and made Parisian Warm Chocolate.

I tell you, this is decadent!

1.5 cups organic whole milk
1/2 cup cream
3/8 cup evaporated cane juice
7 oz. Trader Joe's organic dark chocolate, chopped

Simmer the milk, cream and sugar together until just boiling. Stir in the chocolate until melted. Don't let it boil. Serve warm, with fresh whipped cream.

Gabe lit the advent candles while the boys waited impatiently for the "ok" to start on their chocolate.

Oh my, that is good chocolate.

It was a lovely Sunday evening.

God of love and mercy,
help us to follow the example of Mary,
always ready to do your will.
At the message of an angel
she welcomed your eternal Son
and, filled with the light of your Spirit,
she became the temple of your Word.

from Liturgy of the Hours

Friday, December 17, 2010

Poor little sickies

Jonathan came down with the stomach flu yesterday. Josiah's nose is running like a faucet. Thomas says he's fine, but he's only eaten about three bites of applesauce all morning. I'm tired and run-down and coughing but (so far!) not puking!

We're hunkering down and making ourselves comfortable. My goal today: reasonably happy kids, lots of hot tea, and clean laundry. Hulu is making this endeavor much easier...did you know that there is an entire season of 1954 Lassie available? We watched the Christmas episode this morning and it is just as sweet as I remembered. TV from half a century ago is so completely different from TV this episode Timmy folds his hands and asks God to "please tell Santy Claus...", a caroling group sings two entire verses of Silent Night, and the veterinarian says success wasn't from his skill, but from "these people's prayers, and the faith of a child".

So I'm happy because it is a sweet show with values in line with ours , and the boys are happy because hey, it's a movie about a boy their age and a really cool dog! I don't think they've even noticed that it isn't in color. :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent, making gifts

Gifts for my family: hours in the kitchen resulting in these lovelies.

Gifts for the children's friends:

Gifts for me: humor in my day. Apparently Josiah thinks that it is Halloween.

Hand dancing?

Have you ever seen anything like this? I think it is fascinating. And kind of strange. And maybe I want to learn how to do it. (In all my free time...)

Thanks, Minnesota Mom!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Muppet Christmas Carol

Hey Dad, remember this?

We're continuing the tradition. Jonathan is inspired. :)

Advent, ongoing

Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Phillip came over last Saturday for an early Christmas. They brought a pre-baked gingerbread TRAIN.

Oh, the excitement!

Those things are more complicated than they look. :) It took an afternoon with grandparents, and another morning with me, but isn't the result pretty?

The boys really enjoyed it. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Art, and the art of letter writing

Letter writing: the one positive aspect of family living far away. Jonathan enjoys sending some of his artwork away to his aunts and uncles, and sometimes they write back! Which of course means that he needs to write back. I love that he's learning this, even in our email (and blog!) saturated culture.

In the latest note from Aunt Jenny, she included step by step instructions for drawing a cat in a window. Jonathan drew his cat according to her directions, and then decided to turn the paper over and draw the same cat, from the other side of the window. It was fun to see his thought process as he decided how best to do that. There are whiskers and a nose on the other side of the picture!

When we first started writing letters, it took a lot of prompting and suggestions to help Jonathan craft what he wanted to say. This time he dictated the entire letter without assistance. I was very proud! Here's the text, because it is hard to read in the letter and because I want it for posterity (because, of course, the letter has been sent away!)
Dear Aunt Jenny,
You're welcome for the fun bird's nest picture. I hope you enjoy it.
Thank you for teaching me how to draw the kitty cat.
We love you, dear Aunt Jenny.
Love, Jonathan

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pretty over the kitchen sink!

Auntie Leila is hosting a little kitchen party today. Want to participate? You can link up here.

A few days ago she asked us to take a few minutes and make our kitchen windowsill beautiful. I don't know about you, but it is really easy for me to let mine become a collector of "stuff". Soap and scrubbies that I'm not using, maybe a rag that I left up there...not appealing! And Leila is right - we spend so much time in our kitchen, we really ought to make an effort to keep it pretty. So, here's my newly beautiful windowsill:

Sorry about the lighting - I was having troubles with my camera. It may not look like much in the picture, but in real life it is a lovely vase of white roses, and a little pink tea candle beside it. Also, I finally have my white curtains back up, which makes a nice frame for the flowers.

Leila's second request was for a discussion about kitchen "flow". This is something I feel competent to discuss, having thought about it thoroughly and recently changed how I was doing things.

In my first three kitchens, my sink area movement went from left to right. Dirty dishes on the left, clean dishes on the right. This is how it was in the kitchen where I grew up and it was habit! But you know what? It didn't actually work very well in my current kitchen.

So when we remodeled, I switched things up. Now we move from right to left! :)

To the right of my sink, the two appliances that I use the most: bread machine and blender. Lots of food prep happens here, even though it is a smallish bit of counter. I like having the towel/dishrag rod right there to wipe my hands!

The sink itself: garbage disposal on the right, soapy water goes into the left. And isn't my little windowsill pretty?

Dish rack for drying clean dishes on the left. Directly above (and to the left) are cabinets where clean dishes are stored.

I like the change a lot. Dirty dishes can be placed in the right hand sink or directly into the dishwasher. Clean dishes move from the sink to the drying rack to the cabinet with nary one wasted step!

How about you? Have you put thought into your kitchen's flow? Do you take the time for the little touches that make it pretty?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Amazing deal... (UPDATED)

that might possibly be too good to be true...but I'm trying it and you might want to, as well. Visit Hot Coupon Mamas for details on how to get $50 worth of groceries shipped to your door for $7. I'm stocking up on oatmeal and crossing my fingers that the deal with actually work. :)

UPDATE: My order arrived a few minutes ago, and the deal worked as stated! Hurrah!


I finished the last of my reading, writing, and feedback submissions tonight (ok, this morning) and I have requested my official certification from Childbirth International. In about six weeks I should have a shiny new certificate stating that I have the right to the letters CLD (CBI) after my name. Sweet.

I'm up way too late, and I'm sure I'll regret that in the morning, but...


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Advent, St. Nicholas Day

Chocolate coins in their shoes!

Baking and icing St. Nicholas (and other) shaped cookies.

Pictures are worth lots and lots of words, right? I'm heading for bed. ;)