Saturday, April 30, 2011

Winner Winner! ( i won't say chicken dinner)

I won! Okay 9th place, but I am still in the top ten this week! Ahh, finally, after about 4 months of entering every single week, I am in the top ten (engaging pat-on-the-back machine)! Thank you Miss Casey and please go check out the AMAZING entries and winners from the pet challenge this week at I Heart Faces.

Give yourself a pat on the back too. Its fun and rewarding!


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Monday, April 25, 2011

I Heart Faces: Pets

After a busy day of pulling the covers off tennis balls and digging new holes in the yard, Miss Casey Jane is apparently all tuckered out. No energy left even to come give mama some kisses when I bent down to take her picture, as she snuggled in her igloo. Oh Miss Casey, you are 9 years old now, when will these puppy behaviors go away? You are lucky that those eyes have a direct link to my soul!  I love my labs!

Go check out the rest of the Pet photos at I Heart Faces for this weeks challenge.   If you are anything like me, your heart will melt about 50 times over! 


Friday, April 22, 2011

April Cooking Club- Easter Brunch for Din-Din

The girls gathered around my spring table last night for some Easter breakfast goodness at 8pm! 

cute right? Very springy...

We kinda got off to a slow start and the Bloody Mary's may have been responsible for that. :)

Hi there honey!

Secretly Simple Bloody Mary
  • celery, 4 stalks
  • lemon, 2
  • vodka, 3/4 cup (6 ounces)
  • tomato juice, 3 cups
  • prepared horseradish, 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • peppercini peppers, 4 peppers plus 1 tablespoon of the brine (I omitted these and used green beans and olives)
  • Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons
  • hot sauce (such as Tabasco), 1 to 2 teaspoons
  • celery salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • black pepper

We had  some tasty deviled eggs to start, which really were the devil, just ask Michele B.

Only 74 calories each Michele, eating 6 was okay! :)

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise + more as needed
  • 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons drained sweet pickle relish
  • 2 heaping tablespoons drained small capers, rinsed and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced chipotle en adobo
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Smoked paprika to garnish
  • Chopped chives to garnish


1.     Halve eggs lengthwise and place yolks in a small bowl; set whites aside. Mash yolks with a fork; add mayonnaise, pickle relish, capers and chipotles, and combine well. If needed, add more mayo for desired consistency. Use a spoon to mound filling into whites, then garnish with paprika and chives.

After a long couple hours of cooking and enjoying Ol Mary's company, it was time to eat. The main menu consisted of Zucchini- Ricotta Salata Bruschetta, Bacon-Watercress Salad, some of the most divine Home Fried with Wild Mushrooms, and last but not least Cali-Style Eggs Benedict.  Lesson on the eggs Benedict, poaching eggs is not easy, and you can get just as yummy hollandaise sauce from those handy little packets they sell in the store.   (What is up with this weird indenting here that I cant get rid of?)
no picture of the salad but trust me, it was pretty!
 Okay, I almost forgot the desert which I am not sure is even possible since I had it for breakfast and lunch today too!  I am not a huge fan of super sweet and chocolaty dessert so this one was very Easter worthy and just perfect for my liking. You ready? Okay, we had the...... (insert drum roll here) Lemon Shortbread Squares! Again, Michele B. tried to take some home with her in her purse right next to the, now squishy, deviled eggs. But, I won the battle, hence the reason why I had some with my coffee for breakfast. Think I will make more for Sunday!  Happy Easter y'all!

I take the pictures so that im not in them . :)



Monday, April 18, 2011

I Heart Faces - Wind Challenge

A weekend away at the coast was just what the soul needed. I thought we were too busy to take a mini-vacation but turns out, the laundry, lawn, and general bleaching can wait. We packed up the car and headed to Timber Cove which is just north of Jenner, CA. The weather was sunny, windy and just shy of perfect. The kids ran and ran some more on the beach and in the tall grasses (never mind the ticks they also got) on the cliff sides. We took a drive to Fort Ross which, was a Russian settlement between 1812 to 1841.  After touring the fort I walked around the back side to see a large number of Russian Orthodox Crosses  lining the cliff on the opposite side of a gulch from where I stood. 

I had to find a way to get over to these crosses. I am a sucker for anything historical and I knew this would be cool (yes, I wanted to be an archeologist almost my entire youth). So another couple minute drive and we found the most amazing little cemetery that dated back to 1812. There were at least 80 weathered Orthodox crosses all facing east-west, with head at the west, so that at resurrection one could sit up facing east, as dictated by Russian Orthodox canon. My daughter found the beauty in this place, just as I did. The wind whipped through the graves and the waved crashed against the coastal cliff just below. My Mouse found some wild Irises that were growing everywhere and made it a point to place one on an unmarked grave. Of course, I cant refuse a sentimental moment so I snapped this shot.

I love history, I love Irises, and I love my sweet, sensitive daughter. Oh and the wind helps too! :) Which brings me to the fact that over at  I Heart Faces this week , the challenge is wind. Go check it out, there are some beautiful entries.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What to do with this damn chicken: Wednesday 7

My friend Kim B. shared this link with me a while back.  Sounds like a yummy spin on a chicken recipe, which is actually a pasta dish. I am going to make this tonight with a Penne pasta.  I think my equally salt loving family will love it too.  Kim was going to try it with Tofu for my vegetarian friends. Also, the recipe says to add some fresh basil and feta at the end, which I totally agree with, but I was also thinking about some toasted pine nuts too since I love me some crunch! :)

I have the prettiest pasta  bowl to put it in too! Oh boy, oh boy!
Thank you Kim!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Canning Jar Lights

I recently got a new table for my back yard that was passed down from a friend of the families, who made it prior to passing away last year. I put the table in the back yard and soon after my children begged to have dinner out there, I realized I needed some light!  I saw an idea similar to this in the Pottery barn magazine using Milk bottles and decided to make my own spin. Definitely not Pottery Barn material but, I was happy. This is where I got the blue fingers.

1. Purchased 5 indoor/outdoor light cords at Ikea for $7

2. found a case of 12 Kern Mason jars in the larger size at Walmart for $9

3. Used a large drill bit that would cut about a half dollar sized whole in the medal cap of the jar. Cut holes in 5 jar lids. i'll be honest, hubby did this part.

4. Found translucent outdoor glass paint at Michaels in a green/gold color and painted the outside of a few jars, $7. I did a bright blue also and it didn't look the way I wanted so I don't think I will go with that. I liked the green because it reminded me of the antique canning jars that were made this color

5. I screwed about 5 jars to the cord fixtures and hung them above my table. I had to play with the placement as to doing more of a tight bunch of lights or more of a grape cluster. Get the hubby to hang them from a plant hook and attach an extension cord to a socket for power. Turn on and be wowed.

Cute right? well, I liked my low budget creation anyway. I'm thinking of taking fabric to make a cozy to hide the cords or something.

Happy Taco Tuesday!


I killed half the neighborhood when I was young…

Got your attention?   Well, it’s true but just not in the literal sense.  When I was growing up I can remember being in constant battles with my brother and the neighborhood kids. Whether it was a round of cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, army men, or Jedi saves Princess Leah (that’s me) from the evil dark side. I had to be a tough little girl to be allowed to play with the boys so, I killed almost the entire Dark side with my pink light saber in an effort to defend myself, of course.   Unfortunately, during the years of these play days in the yard, I was killed countless times, my brother was killed more than I, and we killed off half the neighborhood kids too.  All of us were killed at one time or another only to return to the dinner table at 6 sharp to discuss or daily battles at length.

Now, I haven’t Googled all of the kids on the block in a while, but I am almost certain that none of us blew up a government office with a pipe bomb, went on a shooting rampage at a school, or even went to prison for that matter. Our play was just a part of growing up. Most of us were gentle souls who went on to go to college, have careers and families and watch our children play outside too.  The only difference is that now, we are criminalizing our own children for even using the word “kill”. Heaven forbid they should have a pretend gun or sword of any kind and they definitely can’t talk about shooting at school or draw their battle scenes for that matter.  Just so you know, I didn’t buy my son a weapon either.  Well now, we have a Lego light saber, a toilet paper roll pistol, and a basketball cannon in the back yard.
My knights! The one with a blower for a sword won! :)

Yes, they will find a way. It is in their nature as boys (and the occasional Annie Oakley of the bunch). If you think about it, from the moment that humans evolved from ape form and had a brain larger than a walnut, we were developing modern weaponry. Men are natural protectors, hunters and gatherers, runners, and providers. They are bred and have evolved to be tough. As far and the history museums can go back, you will see displays of all kinds of mallets, tomahawks, knifes, swords, guns. Violence of some form was part of our lives dating back hundreds and hundreds of years.  These kinds of things excite men and young boys alike. They engage them and their brains. They spend hours of strategizing and pretending and decision making and learning. Yes, they learn from play.  No matter what form? Believe it or not, most of them will learn life lessons from these games, they will learn sympathy, they will learn to problem solve and they will become engaged. 

Guess what, we “urban moms”, driving our SUVs and shopping at Whole Foods; seem to think we can change the course.  We seem to think that we can remove this kind of play from our childrens' minds and encourage art and sport (the non-violent kind right?) and keep our children happy.  My son, choose not to make the bunny ears in class yesterday ladies, he was too busy building a Star Wars city out of blocks.  Although, he couldn’t call it a Star Wars city, he could not use it as a fortress for an impending battle and heaven forbid there were no sound effects to be heard.  But, he was building, he was thinking about how to balance blocks, engineering a structure, critical thinking and imagining an amazing life behind those walls.  This is how my boy learns.  You ask him to make bunny ears and he will hate school!  I fear this will continue forever and I will end up with a son who needs extra help in school, not because he isn’t smart, but because he has disengaged.

And this brings me to the subject of why our boys are so behind in school.  Maybe it is their slower speed of maturing, maybe it is their bottled up energy and frustration we miss interpret as ADHD, maybe it is the feeling that school is for girls. How many of your children have male role models in school? Maybe the principle, maybe the maintenance guy right?  Most likely it isn’t their teacher who they spend hours a day with.  Why do you think they are SO happy to see daddy at the end of the day? Finally ,someone who relates, right?!  Truth is that, I think we were so worried about getting our girls in school and doing well so that they can put down the apron and have high paying jobs someday, that we have forgotten about our boys.  Well they need us. They need someone to be thinking about their needs. They need to not feel like they are alien or wrong for being interested in something other than art and play dough. 

I blogged a while ago about my son’s obsession with video games. I hated it because he craved it. This was a kid that could barely write his name but could master the first 6 levels of a game designed for 7-13 year olds, in the first 15 minutes.   I think I figured out the obsession.  He was tired of doing the same things as his sister; he craved some form of stimulation in that deep dark part of his brain that makes boys, boys. He wanted to strategize, to battle, to conquer, to compete, to be tactical, to use electronics, and to win.   Why was I so afraid of this? Since my frustrated mommy blog, we have limited the video game time and strive to make it educational.  I have used it to my advantage to get him to do other lessons, some might call it bribery. I say, it worked and it’s working. I have been able to make more strides with my son in the last 3 months than his school has in the last year, just by doing what excites him , what makes him engaged, and trying to understand how he works. 
 I recently found this video/podcast that talks about exactly this. She might be a little radical and maybe take some of this a step too far but I think she is on to something and I encourage you to listen to her and her points. This might land in the hands of the parents and not the schools. At some point the schools cant teach each child differently due to teacher child ratios and budget, etc.  There is also that fine line with violence in schools, especially since Columbine.  At what point do you say that their playing becomes to real?  We need to still be practical about this.

I obviously don’t have all the answers; I just know that something needs to change for our boys. I will continue to be his advocate and encourage his growth through the things he enjoys. I have forwarded my thoughts to his next year Kindergarten teacher who said she has had some stimulating lunchroom conversations about this topic since. She has her questions, she has stated the challenges, and teachers have SO many hurdles! None the less, I love her for entertaining it! I will work with the schools to aim for a change for our boys and I invite others to give thoughts and suggestions on the topic. It is what keeps me motivated and I want to continue to see our men succeed as well as our women.   I also invite the government to find a way to pay teachers more so a man sees a teaching job as a fitting position to provide for a family while doing it. 

There you have it, my off topic random thought. And for those of you that read my post yesterday.  This has nothing to do with my blue fingers. :) That is still to come.