Thursday, December 23, 2010

Swirly How to...

Do you buy foam soap? Our kids love it. We find that its much easier to get the right amount of foam soap and not be wasteful with the regular soap refills. After we used up the soap in this Method brand dispenser, I wondered about refilling it. I looked on line and figured out that a 3 parts water to one part refill soap is a great ratio. The best part, though, is choosing the color. One drop of food coloring is all it takes! What color are YOU going to make?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Permission to paint

While we were stuck indoors from the blizzard, the kids and I found many, many fun things to do. The boys mostly played with Legos, thrilled that I allowed them to spread them all over the living room and dining room instead of the cold basement playroom. Louise helped me make the dough for gingerbread cookies that we'll bake later this week and practiced cutting things up with her scissors. (Is that a 3 year old thing? She could spend hours cutting!)

I needed a little break from kid play, so I pulled out the laptop at the kitchen counter. Louise walked in and asked if she could do facepaint on herself. I think she was expecting to hear no, so when I told her "yes, as long as you take off your shirt and promise to take a bath afterwards," she was astonished. I gave her permission to paint. Permission to paint her entire body. And paint she did.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ready, Set, Decorate!

I'm keeping the Christmas decorations minimal this year, mostly because I think I really dislike putting them all away after Christmas. With my birthday in early December, we usually wait until afterwards to put up the tree. Ron's birthday is in early January, so I like to take things down before then. The time is so short... so I'm focusing on my mantle this year. Er, my piano, since we have no fireplace. (Please excuse the scratches on the piano.... it was once used religiously as a race track for match box cars. We did buy it used, however, for its great patina, so I don't mind a bit.)
The felt trees were a great find last year at the dollar store. I think they were a subtle influence on the styling for our Advent calendar, though it may have been a chicken or the egg type situation. Did we style our Advent calendars that way then I fell in love with the trees? Or was it the other way around?
On my to-do list is finish aembroidering my name on my stocking. Already the kids tease me that my name is "Je". Hey, their names are complete. Isn't that what matters most?

And you? How is your decorating going this year?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lost in the Snow

We spent the weekend at home, trapped by the snow! It is beautiful and was wonderful to play in, though a bit tall for Molly-dog's tastes.
It took over an hour to unearth the van to go and pick up the kids from an overnight on Saturday morning. Once Ron did pick them up, the van got stuck in the snow trying to figure out the best way to get home. Once he did near our house, there was a car stuck in the road, blocking our entrance. It took the Ron and the snowblower, several neighbors and their shovels to clear a path for Ron to drive into our driveway.
Do I really have to go to work tomorrow? I'm thinking about taking the city bus so we don't have to dig out any more cars.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Gus wants to be famous someday. We told him that it might happen if he joined the Mexican Dance and Cultural club at his school, a great fit for a kid that loves to sing and dance. He was excited about it for a day, then begged me to tear up the application and my check. With a little extra prodding, he made it to the first session and hasn't looked back. He danced this week at a fundraiser at a local bookstore. Look out world, here comes Gustavo. OLE!
His favorite kindergarten friend Celia stayed to watch him dance. He was thrilled!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Time with Santa

Every year since Carl was born we have taken him to Bachman's to see the annual Santa and Albert the elf skit. It is a 25 minute show, filled with magic tricks by Albert, a little back and forth banter between the two of them and a sing-along at the end. This year, I was very brave and brought my two nephews along with our three, by myself. All were well behaved during the performance, but getting five kids dressed and ready to go on a cold and snowy day? I was ready for a hot toddy! Gus volunteered as a magician's assistant. He's excited, really.
Louise's doll Dalla got to come along in her matching dress. The doll dress was my mother's doll dress, hand sewn by her childhood neighbor. It was mine as a child also and found itself in Louise's doll clothes box to her utter delight!
No trip to Bachman's is complete without a visit to the koi ponds. It is the ultimate bribe... "If you _________ (fill in the blank), we can go watch the fish at Bachman's!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Collision: Home and Work

It was bound to happen. My home life and work life collided last week. I baked cinnamon and pecan caramel rolls for my 1st hour class. For 24 students. At 8:30 in the morning.
At school we had a contest between first hour classes to see which class could bring in the most items for the annual food drive. The winning class would also be able to deliver the food down to the food shelf and unload, sort and place the items on the shelves. As if that weren't exciting enough, I decided I wanted to up the ante. Homemade rolls, delivered fresh one day for breakfast in class.
They bit, of course, and we won with 300+ items, I believe. The second highest class also got to come along on the huge bus, an ELL class with 13 students. My Spanish students were thrilled to be able to befriend the ELL kids and also had a chance to practice un poco de espanol.
The rolls, of course, are my own adaptation of the Caramel Roll recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wild in the Snow

We've been enjoying the wildlife here lately but weren't sure just how the turkeys would fare. Imagine our delight a few days ago after a big snow storm when these funny birds came fluttering down the block. Poor guys... they were so hungry because all of their food is hidden under the snow so they started hopping up and down, trying desperately to get the few remaining crab apples off this tree. One fell down. I nearly did too, laughing.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Beginning Baking

... though not for the holidays. Carl was in charge of this from-scratch cake, a volcano!
At school if the students in 2nd grade speak only in Spanish throughout the day, they get to keep a star by their names all day. If this continues, they get to keep the star all week. At conferences we learned that Carl was having difficulty keeping his star because one of his friends was consistently talking to him in English. As a little star incentive, I told him we'd bake a special star cake for him if he kept it for a week.
Fast forward two weeks and he still has his star. He asked, "Mom, can we make it a volcano cake instead?" Some fancy cake layering and serrated knife carving skills were needed here to shape the volcano just-so.

He drew all the dragons from "How to Train Your Dragon" that we watched recently and was planning on attaching with wooden kebab sticks, but decided to just stick with just the volcano. Watch out for the hot lava!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Advent Tree: A Year in the Making

Over a year ago I began a lovely project with my friend Kristine. I think I'm finally finished. Today it went up on the wall. As pictured, the kids hadn't yet visited to hang day one of the Advent Season.

Stay tuned for the end of the month when all of the handmade tree ornaments are on the tree. Merry Christmas season to you. With our dusting of snow these past few days and the shiver-inducing weater, it's beginning to look alot like.....

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thankful for friends

Last week I got to go out for the evening with two great friends Sarah and Kerry. We met for dinner before catching the Weepies concert at The Cedar Cultural Center. The concert was AMAZING and we all sat in awe at the beautiful, enchanting sounds coming from the stage. Maybe it was the good, local and strong beer we had with dinner, but I thought it was the best live concert I've seen in years. If you don't know this band, consider this your invitation.

Thank you to the Weepies for your music, and thank you to Sarah and Kerry. You keep me inspired daily!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

The Shadow Ninja, Witch and Anakin Skywalker are all in bed after a warm evening of trick or treating. I'm coming down off of my sugar rush. Must get to bed. Maybe just one more Almond Joy? They won't notice if I sneak another one, will they?
And you? What's your favorite thing to score from their loot bags? Special Dark is my other fave!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Birthday cake for Krista

Every year when we celebrate my sister's birthday at our monthly family soup night, I get the honor of making her cake. For the past several years I have made the cakes on the cover of Country Living magazine. I wasn't too inspired by the cupcakes on the October issue this year, so I went back to my all-time favorite recipe from a few years ago, just tweaking it a bit. Here's the spooky spider-webby outcome. Happy Birthday, Krista!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Off to Stillwater

Last weekend we were joined by in-town and out-of-town college friends for a beautiful fall day. Kevin and Julie came up from Des Moines with their kids and asked to take a little road trip from the big cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. We joined them and Jenn, Charley and their daughter on an excursion to Axdahl's pumpkin patch and market and then to beautiful historic Stillwater.
If you've never been to Stillwater before, please add it to your "must-visit" list, any time of the year. Antique stores, crafty gift shops, restaurants galore, the St. Croix River, an ice cream store just steps away from the water!

We hadn't yet visited the Teddy Bear park and were quite impressed with it. It was tough to figure out exactly which part of the day was the best part for the kids: pumpkin patch fun, Teddy Bear park, or walking with our ice cream cones down to the flooded river and watching the historic lift bridge let the waiting boats pass by. Have you ever seen light posts that are supposed to be lining a sidewalk.... submerged in a river?