Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ear Thingies

When Tony went to tuck Sam in tonight, they had this little conversation.

Sam: "Dad. Do you hear that noise?"
Tony: "Yeah, that's just the wind. It sorta sounds like a coyote, doesn't it?"
Sam: "Yeah...I don't think I'll be able to sleep with all that noise. Can I have one of your ear thingies?"
Tony: "What ear thingies?"
Sam: "You know, those things you use when you go hunting."

Tony somehow gathered from this disjointed and highly articulate conversation what Sam wanted and went and grabbed a pair if his hearing protectors and brought them to Sam. Sam promptly put them on. When we went down to check on him, this is what we found.

What a cute kid.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

End Of An Era

We were running around town this afternoon, on a treasure hunt for two pairs of new soccer shoes, when an era in our family came to an abrupt end. I heard Anna say something from her booster seat right behind me:

Anna: "Mom? Did you know that the Cochran's have a piano in their basement?"
Me: (fighting back an errant tear) "What do the Cochran's have in their basement, Anna?"
Anna: "A piano."

Now why did this make me wax a little nostalgic? Because Anna is an extremely articulate child. Always has been. She didn't say many things wrong. But "piano" was one of them. She called a "piano" a "pianio." We'd love to make up reasons for her to say it just so we could giggle. Cutest thing you've ever heard.

But she doesn't say "pianio" anymore. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lemming-Like Behavior

Tony and I were late-comers to the whole American Idol phenomenon...I think we started watching about Season 4. We've been watching long enough now that we could pretty much start our own show. Yeah, we're pretty much talent experts. But last night...ah...last night. I did the unprecedented. I actually voted. How could I not? And who did I vote for? Here's a hint.

Take a little of this...

...and add a little bit of this...

...and you get this. AND my first ever American Idol vote.

Blazin' molten HOT.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Anna the Ex-Nailbiter

We've had a bit of a dilemma with Anna for the past six months or so. She has been a TERRIBLE nailbiter. Gross, I tell you. And no matter what we tried, it didn't seem to deter her. We yelled, we bargained, we threatened. Nothing worked. I told her that nothing is so ugly (yes, I even used the family bad word "ugly") as a little girl who has bitten down all her nails. Didn't work.

This past week, I picked up some of that polish that tastes terrible to put on her nails so when she put her fingers in her mouth, she would be reminded not to bite. It worked, until she managed to pick off all the dried polish with her non-existent fingernails. Hum. Tony told her that if she didn't stop, she would have to go to the doctor and get a shot. Scared her to death, but she still didn't stop chewing.

I finally remembered a "Dr. Philism" about how to change unwanted behavior in your child...find their "currency." Well, everyone who knows our Anna knows how much she loves Bunny.

So, we sat Anna down and told her that if I caught her biting her nails, Bunny had to sleep with me. If she didn't bite her nails during the day, Bunny could sleep with her. Hitting below the belt? Probably. Did it work? Hell, yes.

As a reward for 3 days of not biting her nails, we painted them pretty today. And she couldn't decide which color, so we did them all different.

I'm so proud of her.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cute Downloadable Card

Well, our Easter trip to Branson is officially off. With all the flooding in Missouri, we didn't want to take a chance with the roads and the weather. So I guess we'll be needing to email the Easter bunny and tell him we'll be expecting a visit after all.

I came across this great blog this week. Jessica has some of the CUTEST things, especially this cute card. She was even kind enough to make the PDF template available to download and print. Just have to add some buttons and round the corners. I didn't have any cool vintage buttons on hand, unfortunately, but I think it turned out cute with some odds and ends.

I'm taking a couple days to enjoy having my family together...I'll be back to posting on Tuesday! Have a wonderful Easter!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lunch with the Ogdens

We were lucky enough to get a kind invitation from the Ogden family to have lunch with them today!! They don't live that far away, but we never seem to see them enough.

My kids enjoyed playing with Lucy, jumping on the trampoline, dressing in full princess regalia (except for Sam, who just snapped the picture) and I got to enjoy a little bit of baby Jacob time.

Even Joshua played it COOL today-check out his shirt. And thanks to Lucy, we will never call cupcakes anything but "pupcakes" again!! Thanks for the fun afternoon Holly, Lucy and baby Jacob! We'll be returning the favor soon.

Orange Chicken with Potatoes

My thanks to Sandra for another great Slow Cooking Thursday! Make sure to check out her blog today for a collection of fun slow cooker recipes. My contribution comes from Real Simple magazine. I've had a thing lately with butternut squash...the colors in this recipe are beautiful and it scored big with the entire family. Enjoy!

Orange Chicken with Potatoes

8 skinless chicken thighs (I used tenderloins and it worked fine)
Kosher salt and pepper
2 onions, quartered
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 2" chunks
1 small butternut squash--peeled, seeded and cut into 1" pieces
12 cloves garlic, peeled
1 orange, cut into 1/4" rings
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp. honey
8 sprigs thyme

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. In the bowl of slow cooker, combine the chicken, onion, potatoes, squash,garlic, orange, broth, honey and thyme. Set the slow cooker to high and cook, covered, until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through, about 2 1/2 hours.

Have a FABULOUS Thursday...and let the March Madness begin!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Zoo Day

We took advantage of a beautiful day and went to the "big zoo." We hit all the favorites, and even hiked to the far reaches today to see the elephants, oryx and rhinos. Here are some of our favorite shots from the day.

Sam said his highlight was ALL the animals (big surprise there) and Anna's favorite part was the Kingdom of the Night (except the bats), the giraffes and the ice cream. Josh LOVED the penguins and the fish and the ride in his stroller. FUN day at the Henry Doorly Zoo.

Kids' Puzzle Storage

We've been all about spring cleaning and organizing at our house this week. And I've had a couple people ask organizing questions over the past while so I'm sharing one of the organizing tips our family has adopted for Scribbit's Winter Bazaar.

My kids LOVE puzzles. In a big way. But the boxes always break and they are big, bulky, and take up way too much room in my limited storage area. So I came up with this very sensible option. I cut the front off the puzzle box, the side with the picture, and tape it with clear packaging tape onto the front of a gallon-sized freezer bag. Then, they stack into my puzzle storage bin so much better with tons of room to spare. It also is great for when we travel...the kids can pack a few puzzles to put in their suitcases instead of just one and I don't have to worry about the box getting crushed.

I hope this is an idea that you can use!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Seven "S" Things

I have been tagged (by Albanie), tagged (by Kathleen) and tagged again (Kristi). Since I've already done a version of the 5 Things Tag, I'm going to do Kristi's Seven "S" Things tag instead.

1. Spring Break with Sam. Tomorrow starts an entire week of Spring Break in our school district. That means an ENTIRE week and a day with Sam at home. HOORAY! We're planning on lots of fun things...a trip to the zoo and lunch with the Ogdens to name a few. (This is Sam showing off his military ID card he made so he could be just like his daddy.)

2. Simplifying. "Simplify" has been my mantra for the past couple years, but I'm recommitting myself. The more I streamline the things I HAVE to do, the more time I get to spend on things I WANT to do.

3. Sorting. The never-ending process at my house.

4. Scrapping. I've had a fun weekend getting some scrapbooking some... just of few of my pages.

5. obSSeSSing. We read Twilight for our book group this past month so I re-read it so that I could intelligently discuss. Well, y'all know how I can get and I had to re-read the other two as well...just to be sure I hadn't missed anything the first time through. Oh, and did I mention I read them both in three days this past week? Yikes.

6. Swooning. Can I just brag on my husband for a minute? I am so lucky to have found my perfect compliment. He is my best friend, my cheering section, and my sweetheart all in one package. And he's hot to boot.

7. Selecting and Scheming. It's Selection Sunday. And our family has a March Madness McIllece Bracketology trophy to win.

Consider yourself tagged if you'd like to do this meme.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Kindness Matters

I wanted to quickly share a lesson I am so grateful to have experienced this week. It seems to me that the kinder we are to those around us, the more kindness we notice in those around us. It is so simple, but it had a most profound effect on me.

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."
--Henry James, to his nephew

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

No-Hurry Vegetable Curry

Love a little sweet to go with your spicy?? Try this easy recipe that I found in Woman's Day magazine, March 4, 2008 issue. It made the house smell divine while it cooked.

No-Hurry Vegetable Curry

1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. red curry paste
1 large onion, chopped
4 small Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
4 cups 1 1/2" chunks butternut squash
4 cups cauliflower florets
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed
1 red bell pepper, cut in 1" pieces
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups rice
chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired

Whisk coconut milk, flour and curry paste in slow cooker. Stir in vegetables except peas; mix well.

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours until vegetables are tender. Stir in peas, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Serve with rice; garnish with cilantro.

It's pretty AND tastes yummy!

For more great slow cooker reicpes, check out Sandra's Slow Cooking Thursday!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bunny Tangrams

How about another Winter Bazaar offering? I was thumbing through the March 2008 issue of Family Fun and came across these cute tangrams. I simply went to the magazine's website printed out the tangrams on colored cardstock and then 3 sets of shapes on white cardstock. I laminated and trimmed them all and then set Anna (delightfully dressed in her ballerina outfit) down to try them. I had thought they might be too difficult for her, but she did great!! The website also provides the solutions, so I added a copy of those on the back of each tangrams in case frustration sets in.


Carrot Cheesecake Muffins

I'm about crafted out, so I'm sharing a recipe for Scribbit's Winter Bazaar this week. I found this recipe in my latest Country Register and since I am abstaining from chocolate, the next best thing is cheesecake! And since there are carrots in the muffins, the cheesecake calories are cancelled out. And if you drink it with a diet Dr. Pepper...WELL, you're basically in the caloric black hole. They are a little bit of work, but well worth the effort.

Carrot Cheesecake Muffins

1/3 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 1/4 cup finely grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. baking powder
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange rind
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. sugar

Set oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease cupcake tin or line with cupcake papers.

Blend cream cheese, 2 Tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. of the orange rind until thoroughly mixed and set aside until needed.

Cream butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in eggs, orange juice concentrate and evaporated milk. Stir in the rest of the orange rind, carrots, raisins, and walnuts and thoroughly blend. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Add carrot mixture and stir just until moistened. Spoon 2 Tbsp. batter into each of muffin tins. Spoon 1 Tbsp. cream cheese mixture on top. Cover with remaining batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Makes 1 dozen.

(If you're a Pampered Chef junkie like I am, I used the medium scoop for the bottom, the littlest scoop for the cheesecake mixture, and another medium scoop of batter for the top and it was perfect.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Quick Card

Just wanted to quickly post a picture of the cards I made from yesterday's Ben Franklin Too booty. I fell in love with this black & white MM paper. Kristi helped me find a great, funky green retro floral to put behind it. Very easy. I ended up having to make them 5" by 7" so that more of the cut outs were I'll use them when I have ALOT to say to someone:-)

Gotta get my scanner set up...this picture is HORRIBLE. Sorry.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Good Day

Yesterday was a very bad day. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that my daughter almost found herself sold to gypsies on the way to church and the evening culminated with Tony nearly getting hit with a flying bottle of glue when he tried to gently remind me that it was Lent and that I didn't REALLY want to eat the entire box of Thin Mints that were in the freezer, did I? Lucky for him he can outrun me and has the reflexes of a cat. I didn't eat them. Not a good day.

But, now was a good day. I got Anna signed up for preschool. I did the laundry and touched up the bathrooms (Monday's chores) and then headed down to Lincoln with the two little ones. I picked up more Girl Scout cookies that we ordered from the Stoltes. Then we met Kristi and Genna and we hit a couple scrapbook stores and just hung out. I'm sorta glad I didn't sell Anna to the gypsies because she was lots of fun today and Josh was an absolute delight. The girls were so good while we shopped that we all had a little ice cream cone before we went our separate ways. Josh thought we were trying to poison him. In the end, both kiddos fell asleep in the car on the way home and we got back to Omaha just in time to pick up Sam from school. It's been a good day. And it's not even over yet...I used my Christmas gift certificate to Ben Franklin Too and got some CUTE stuff to make some new cards...I'll post pictures when I get them done!

Hope you had a good Monday, too.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Anna the Klepto & Her Purse

It all started when my dad sent the two big kids wallets. They filled them with ID cards they made themselves, school pictures of each other, and pretend money. Then Anna asked for a pair of sunglasses because the sun was getting in her "eyelashes" when we were in the car. Then she asked for chapstick of her very own. Every girl has got to have chapstick. With all this new-found girl booty, she didn't have a way to keep track of it all...especially when she was on the go. So last Friday, she and I had a girl's night out and she picked out some fabric and buttons so I could make her a purse. I used this darling tutorial from Cocoa and we were both very happy with the result.

That is, until things started going missing. Come to find out, Anna had been paying VERY close attention to the things that I had in my purse and decided that since she now had her own purse, she needed all those same things in hers, too. So, last night after she was in bed, I raided her purse. Aside from her wallet, her barbie cellphone, and 3 sets of Josh's plastic baby key toys, I found six tubes of chapstick, my digital camera, and nickel, a quarter, and the mailbox key.

We had a very long talk this morning about taking things that aren't ours without asking.

On a completely different note, last night I finished up a set of cards with some of my hoarded 7Gypsies paper. I needed some "just because " cards and this will fit the bill. I love the way they turned out.

And last but not least, more good news. Tony got his line number yesterday and it looks like he will be pinning on Major before the end of the year...much earlier than we had anticipated. We feel so blessed.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Jelly Bean Prayer

This month, my VT partner and I are giving these packets of jelly beans with a copy of the Jelly Bean Prayer to the ladies that we visit each month. Easy, easy, and perfect for remembering the reason for the Easter season when accompanied with this poem:

"Red is for the blood He gave,
Green is for the grass He made.
Yellow is for the sun so bright,
Orange is for the edge of night.
Black is for the sins we made,
White is for the grace He gave.
Purple is for His hour of sorrow,
Pink is for our new tomorrow."

And a couple weeks ago for Scribbit's Winter Bazaar, I posted about this project I did for Valentine's Day. Well, I repurposed the frame and used shamrocks to decorate my entry for March. Here is the result.

Have a good one!

Monday, March 3, 2008

"Major" News

We got some great news today...Tony received written notification that he was selected for promotion to Major! Finally, an end to the anxious anticipation that started when the board met last November. Hooray for Tony!

And as if you don't already hear WAY too much from me, I'm flattered to be guest posting for Scribbit tomorrow, so check me out over there, too.

April's Giveaway!

My sister April is having another great giveaway so check out her blog here and leave a comment before Friday to get in on the love.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

Megan is up this weekend and so this is the fabulous recipe we made yesterday in preparation for feeding the sister missionaries this evening. I know I got this recipe from February's Munch & Mingle, but I don't know who contributed it. So for those ladies that were there, whose recipe is this? I want to give her credit because it was a winner!

Funny side note. Megan and I went to see The Other Boleyn Girl last night and we were in the car on the way to the theater, barely around the corner from our house and my phone rings. It's Tony, and this is the exact conversation.

Me: Tony, what's up? Do you need me to come home?
Tony: No...I just wanted to call and tell you that I love you...and to have fun tonight...HUGE PAUSE...and while I've got you on the phone, is that dessert in the fridge for us?

Megan and I laughed all the way to the movie. At least he was sweet enough to ask first before eating it. We know another family member further up the family tree who would have eaten half the cheesecake before we got home from the movies!

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

1 (14 oz.) bag of caramels
1 (5 oz.) can evaporated milk
graham cracker crust
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
pecan halves to garnish, if desired

Melt caramels in evaporated milk, stirring often. Pour over graham cracker crust; sprinkle with toasted pecans and set aside.

Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, add sugar, mixing well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and chocolate, beating until blended. Spoon over pecan layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and run knife around edge of pan to release sides. Let cool at room temperature and then cover and chill for at least 8 hours. When ready to serve, arrange pecan halves around edge of cheesecake, if desired.

Yeah, and it's snowing outside. Again.