Monday, November 26, 2012

Baby Project, part 2!

Every day, Lilia reminds me that the baby is getting bigger in my belly.  It's getting harder to walk, breath, eat and sleep.  Sometimes it's even hard to sit.  I expect December is going to feel pretty much like the entire summer...slow and never ending.  35 weeks along, and I think this one can come as early as next week, and as late as next year.

Remember this little unit?
Part two of my changing table project was actually transforming an old shelf unit into a small matching wardrobe.  We bought this unit way before we had kids.  At one time it was filled with DVD's and video games.  Then Lilia was born, and began to crawl and then walk, and all our DVD's got strewn onto the floor on a regular basis.  One by one, I emptied the shelves, and than as Lilia got old enough to leave it alone, I started putting it all back.  Until Liam came along, and then it was the same story.  Ever since then, the DVD's really never got put back onto this shelving unit, and there seems no point in trying to use it again for it's intended purpose- I'm sure this little one will do the exact same thing.

Finished, and perfect for newborn clothing!
As I began to gather baby stuff, I stored it in my dining room closet.  Liam's room has no closets, just a wardrobe and a set of drawers.  Lilia's room has a closet, though her toys are mostly stored in there, and no matter how many times I clean my own closet, there never seems to be room in there for long.  And then looking at this shelving unit that now seemed to function as a junk unit, an idea hit me.  A small wardrobe, perfect for holding the baby's clothes.

I started with a coat of paint.  Same color as the changing table.  I decided I wanted to keep a small shelf for storage, so I moved one shelf to the top most holes, and painted the shelf.  I bought an 18-30 inch adjustable clothing rod, and installed that.  There's a basket on the bottom for baby blankets, swaddles and changing table covers.  I debated having a second shelf on the bottom, but that took up too much room.  Because the top shelf was so thin, I used old silverware baskets from my kitchen drawers.  They have things like hair bows and hair bands, nail files, nail clippers, nose sucker, and the like.  I added a basket for bibs on the top, another basket for baby wash, coconut oil, and wipes solution, and the wipes warmer.  The top is actually protected by a plastic desk shield.  And I added a few decals from the set I used on the changing table.  It looks so nice, and I feel so organized!  I'm still debating on adding a curtain rod and a small curtain, but I can't decide if that would be too much.
Side with a decal.

So far, I placed all her newborn clothes, with the exception of onesies in there, as well as 0-3 month outfits, dresses.  I use one of the drawers in the changing table for oneies, and another for sleepers.  Everything fits in there nicely, and as she starts to outgrow items, it will be easy to just break out the next size, while stashing the old sizes.  And once we've had either an addition made, or we move to a bigger house, she can still use it for play clothes and toy storage.  I have a little mental image of attaching a mirror on the other side, and hanging up her (and Lilia and Liam's) dress-up clothes.  And again, this was super cheap.  Except for the baskets and the clothing rod, everything was an extension of the original changing table project.  The baskets I got from Kmart on Black Friday for 24.99 (for a 7 piece set that included a hamper, waste basket, and 5 different sized baskets.) and the clothing rod was $5.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Little Changes...

I've had the same crib and changing table for all my kids.  Well, sort of.  It's one of those convertible cribs that turns into a toddler bed, and then you can eventually use it for headboards, and the changing table can turn into an end table.  Or something crazy like that.  We used it for Lilia, and then when we had Liam, we converted it to a toddler bed for Lilia, and he slept in his own crib.  We kept the changing table part for him though.  Now no one using the crib or changing table, and until we decide how we're going to go about adding another room for the baby, I'm only using the changing table.

After two kids, it was a bit of a mess.  A bit of wear and tear, and me having the desire for something new looking, I knew I wanted to do something.  I had some ideas in my head, and then of course, I found some things on pinterest which made me think "Hey, I can do my ideas!"

The first thing I did was wash the changing table, and then let it dry.  I added two layers of Benjamin Moore paint, in a chocolate mocha color.  After it was dry, I put on pretty little decals because I'm not so good at painting by hand.  Or with stencil.  I replaced the hardware, though I have to admit, I'm disappointed I couldn't find butterfly or flower shaped pulls like I envisioned.  But I like the little pink knobs well enough.  I found some cute baskets that fit the shelves (and small enough to be able to throw in a small basket just for snappi's when I get around to buying them!)  Since I cloth diaper, I added a towel bar, just to hang covers on between use.  Is it bad to admit that I feel a bit like genius for that one? Toss on the changing pad and a new cover, and voila.  My new changing table.

I love the bins, and I love the towel bar.
I wish my camera could do it justice.  I think I should've added new camera to my baby registry (which was really more so I could keep track of what I needed to buy...)  The best part is the price:  20 bux for the paint, 12 bux for all three bins, 5 bux for the towel bar, 10 bux for the decals (I paid $5!), and 3 bux for the drawer pulls.  A brand new looking changing table for under $50. You really can't beat that!  And while I don't include it in the price, the changing pad covers were almost 50% off on Amazon, so I bought a couple then, rather than pay full price.

And before anyone asks, yes, I have everything organized, or a list of how I plan to organize.  The drawers will be prefolds, sleepers and onesies.  The bins are hats and mitts, soakers and covers, and socks, baby legs and soft shoes.  If I can find one I like, I might add a small mobile, and my warmer and wipes will be near by.  Perhaps on the wardrobe I'm working on, but that's a whole other post.  (You know you are looking forward to it!)

Now if I could just figure out what to make with the chicken I have out for dinner tonight, my day will be a complete success.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My morning project...

Having a small house, we've had to come up with a place to put the baby after she's born.  Now, I have no qualms with co-sleeping.  I personally just don't sleep well enough when there's a baby in bed with me.  So my plan this time was to get one of Arm's Reach co-sleepers.  Well, I decided I didn't really like them.  At least the mini ones that were in my price range.  I did, however, discover this cute little nursery center.  We bought it way back in August, and I have to say, it took a bit of self control not to open and play with it until now.
The co-sleeper section

This was my morning project.  It wasn't too bad, there were a few complicated parts, mainly squeezing metal rods into places that were tight. I may or may not have squee'd and coo'd at how adorable it really is though.  Not only is it a pack and play, which will be nice when and if we ever travel again, but it also has a bassinet attachment.  And it has a co-sleeper section.  While we haven't attached it to the bed yet, I'm hoping this makes life so much easier for sleeping and for nursing.  There is also a changing table, side compartments and a little attached side bag for diapers and the like.  And we won't get into the little attached "Electronic music center with volume control, nightlight, and vibration".

Actually, we will.  I haven't tried it yet.  But it apparently features options for nature sounds, music, and an mp3 input so you can play your choice of music for the sleeping baby.  These features, on top of the vibration feature, and night light...well, it' a little over the top, at least for me.  I'm not sure if I'll even use them, though it can't hurt to give it a try.  My only disappointment was the lack of a mobile, which some of the other models had.
Next to my messy bed.
Needless to say, I'm still thrilled with my choice, and I am looking forward to putting the baby down in this.  I'm going to leave the whole "attaching the play yard to the bed" thing to John, as that involved removing the top mattress and probably a lot of crawling around on the ground and getting into awkward positions.  A little hard to do at this stage of pregnancy.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Knitting and Crocheting and waiting (somewhat) patiently...

What's this?  A post?!  Cut me some slack! I'm pregnant.  They say that everything happens sooner with each subsequent pregnancy.  They don't have to convince me.

Actually I just feel so busy in my own little way now- I'm knitting and crocheting up a storm, painting, and shopping and preparing...It seems almost sad that I'm so silent at such a fun time.

Yeah, that's my odd shaped bump underneath that blanket...
Since August, I literally did about 14 different knitting projects.  A few were for my sister, who had a baby in September.  And the rest for our number three.  I keep my ravelry updated, so you're always welcome to check out that little list.

My current project has slowed me considerably.  Wanting a break from all the knitting, I went back to crochet for a bit, and decided I'd try to tackle something bigger.  I fell in love with the Tulip Baby Blanket when  saw it a few months back, but I'm usually not one to buy patterns.  Mainly because I get wary that I won't be able to do the pattern due to my lack of skill.  Well, I just kept coming back to this pattern, and finally caved, hoping it was something I could do.  And it turns out that while it's a time consuming process, the pattern is super simple.

I love the colors- they match fairly well with the Fisher Price Mocha Butterfly theme, which while not our "official" nursery theme (there's no nursery...), is basically the color scheme I'm going with anyways.  And there's something exciting about working so hard on something you're going to wrap your baby up in.  I can't wait to take some adorable pictures.
77 rows down, still far too many to go!
Because it's such a big project, I am working on other things.  I take breaks from knitting.  Right now I'm working on the jingle bell hat, just because it's a little silly, and a little cute.  I plan on adding a matching bib, and probably a pair of longies.  And this just seems to be the top of my list of things to knit/crochet before Christmas.  I won't even begin to list the other projects I'm working/want to work on.  I have a feeling I'm going to run out of time.

33 weeks, 4 days.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August Day Book

Joining in on The Simple Woman's Daybook today.


Outside my window... are some really dark clouds, even though it's quite sunny out.

I am thinking...about everything I need to do between now and December for this baby, and the kids.

I am thankful...that my husband keeps me grounded.  I'd probably be a little bit insane if he didn't.

In the kitchen...are cans of white beans for white bean chicken chili.  Dinner should be delicious tonight!

I am pajamas.  Go ahead, judge me!

I am creating...lots of knit items for the baby.

I am finish a skirtie today, and start a soaker after that.

I am I can go about improving my home without spending lots of money.

I am reading...The Birth Book by William and Martha Sears, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I am hoping...the weather doesn't get too hot.

I am looking forward to...everything Fall.

I am to do a Picot Edge bind off.

Around the house...needs a vacuum.

I am pondering...learning to quilt.  Or at least improving my sewing skills.

A favorite quote for today... “Your body is not a lemon!” by Ina May Gaskin

One of my favorite things... feeling the baby move and kick around.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Laundry.

A peek into my day...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Here I am!

Ok, I know, I know.  I keep disappearing.  Hard not to really, life was just far too busy with everyone home for summer, and being sick and hot and well...just not in the best of moods for a good chunk of the summer.  But, despite all that, we did have a good summer.  From May until now, we went to Connecticut to see Florence and the Machine (great concert, but not fun traveling just as my morning sickness hit hard.), New York City, The Great Sacandaga Lake (camp), lots of trips to Albany (Midwife!), and trips to Rochester (Museum of Play and a new car), and spent lots of time in our cheap little intex pool (which sadly, has bit the dust after 2 years.)  There were races, and lots of fun in the sun.

But this week, John went back to teaching, and Liam's preschool classes began.  Next week, Lilia starts Kindergarten (Can you believe it?!) and I will have nice peaceful mornings to myself, if I can manage to climb out of bed before 11:30.  Yes, I know, that sounds so awful.  I don't know what's up, but this pregnancy has me exhausted in the morning.  Hopefully, back to school for everyone else though means some sort of sense of normalcy returning to my life.  Or at least some sort of routine where kids aren't underfoot!

So, with less to distract me, I'm hoping to update more often again.  I mean, it's not like I don't have stuff to talk about...It's September, my favorite season on the way, a new baby, Christmas, Birthdays and hockey season.  Well, hopefully hockey season.  If there's a lockout, you might get a few crying posts.  And with Pinterest filling my head with ideas on how to organize and prepare for the baby, well...we're in for some good times.

Speaking of baby, things are going really well.  I had my 20 week scan a few weeks ago.  As of today, I'm 22 weeks, 2 days.  My placenta is actually in front this time around, so it took a lot longer to be able to feel the baby kick than the previous two.  But I'm feeling almost every little movement now it seems, and with that comes a feeling of well being.

We did find out the gender, and while I posted it in comments on Facebook, I don't think I ever made an official announcement.  So here it is now...the next A little bit me baby is a sweet baby girl.  I was super excited by this news- knitting stuff for a girl is just more fun, as is shopping for girls, LOL.  With Lilia, we still stuck to a lot of gender neutrals for our basic stuff and nursery decor, so this time I'm leaning more towards pinking stuff up.  Actually, I'm leaning to purpling things up, but same difference.  Lilia is super excited to have a baby sister on the way.  Probably doesn't help that she sees all the little girly stuff we've bought (or plan to buy), and can't wait to play with them herself.

So there we have it.  Life is good, even if baby girl here is quite low and making a pillow and bed out of my bladder and pelvic floor.  I'm looking forward to the next 18 or so weeks.  Saying 18 weeks really makes it feel like that's far away, doesn't it?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Half-Birthday!

Lilia was born 2 days after Christmas, so sometimes it seems like her birthday gets lost in the chaos of the holidays.  Particularly this year, when she was going to the parties of her class mates, and talking about having her own party.  We had decided many years ago that we'd do a half-birthday party type thing, in the warm weather.

This was the first year we actually went through with it.  It was a fun time, albeit stressful, trying to get stuff done in 90º weather.  But I'd say Lilia had a good time, as did her guests.

I tried to keep it simple.  Really, I just wanted the kids to have fun.  I tried to not focus on decorations "too" much.  In one corner of the yard, I set up a cheap bubble machine that had some pretty positive reviews.  For 12.99, it worked really well.

 I also wanted the kids to keep cool.  So I set up both a sprinkler, and a kiddy pool, although that was supposed to be for a little "pick a duck" game with prizes.  By the time guests arrived, Liam had already crawled in, threw out the ducks and was swimming happily.  At least he was cool!

 I attempted to do a little streamer fun on my clothes line, which looked really nice, until the wind picked up.  Ah well...
 The kids wanted to feed the chickens.  Not gonna say no to that.

 Pin the Bow on Hello Kitty.  Fairly sure Lilia could see, because she got it right on the money.

 Lilia picked a Hello Kitty cake.  I think this is her favorite part of a birthday party, more than opening presents.  You gotta love that big blob of green frosting....

Piñata time.  They wanted to beat it with the bat, despite it being a pull string (Is that all they make nowadays?)  Each kid got a turn, and it fell off the rope before it broke open.  Eventually we had them all grab the strings and rip it open.  It was quite carnivorous.

 The candy aftermath.  The poor Candy never stood a chance.

In the end, we caved, and let the kids in the pool.  It was just too hot, and they were all really good.  And it was a nice to end the party, for them at least.  I think I was ready to pass out from the heat and the cake.  I think once everyone left, I floated in the pool for an hour, and then slept on the couch for an hour.  But I had a happy half-birthday girl, and little brother, and happy guests.  So it was a great success.

Friday, June 29, 2012

June Daybook

Life is busy, so I thought I'd just slow down today with The Simple Woman's Daybook.


Outside my window... the sun is slowly setting, and the wind is finally calming.

I am thinking... about everything that needs to be done tomorrow, about my growing belly and my blood sugars.

I am thankful... for my husband, who keeps me grounded.

In the kitchen... is a clean area, with dishes done, counters washed, and no junk piling up.

I am wearing... my hair in a pony tail, with my bangs hanging down.  I always seem to revert back to wearing my hair up...

I am creating... a new life...sort of scary every time I think about it.

I am going... to attempt to assemble a bike tonight, once the kids are in bed.

I am wondering... if it's an easy job or if I'll be cursing by the end of the night.

I am reading... Ina May's Guide to Childbirth again.  Refresher.

I am hoping... that this pregnancy is healthy.

I am looking forward to... baby kicks.  I'm so busy, I feel a little detached from this pregnancy.  Flutters and kicks will help me bond with the life inside me.

I am learning... to reduce my sugars as much as possible.  It's not as easy as it sounds. :(

Around the house... almost every room except bedrooms are clean clean clean! I haven't seen my house this clean in a long time.

I am pondering... going out and taking the laundry off the clothes line.  I should probably do this... *edited to add that someone already did this for me. I'm super lucky.*

A favorite quote for today... "Mommy, why aren't you resting?"  Liam, asking me that after I took a 10 minute nap.

One of my favorite things... watching the kids play with their dad.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Lilia's half-birthday party.  Survive that, and the rest of the week should be fine.

A peek into my day...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Who needs a new rug?

When we moved into the house almost 2 years ago, I was a little wary of the fact that our living room carpet was cream colored.  Two kids, a cat and a light colored carpet...not a good combination.  After all this time of scrubbing out stains by hand, and it really never getting it clean, I bought a SteamVac finally.  I thought this particular one had the best reviews, and was totally affordable.  It was actually only $134 when I ordered it.

So I finally used it today, and I cannot believe how well it worked.  I did a little pre-treatment with some generic carpet cleaner.  I used hot water straight from my tea kettle, mixed with the hottest tap water I could get and a Deep Cleaning solution.  And then I went to work...

Halfway done, and the difference is AMAZING.
I'd have to say this is the best "investment" I've made yet.  It was so worth it and I'm so happy we decided to buy this rather than renting one, or buying new rugs.  I keep walking into my living room and just gaping at how clean it looks.  I want to roll on it and sniff it.  And bar the kids from ever entering it again.

And now I can comfortable think about placing a baby on the floor without shuddering.

Monday, June 25, 2012

13 weeks...

13 weeks, 3 days, and seriously, far too many days remaining.  I'm so tired, still...I guess I need to put an order in for some 2nd trimester energy.

13 weeks...the baby is the size of Shrimp...
Lilia asks me daily how the baby is growing.  How big is the baby now? The baby is in your tummy, right? How big will she be when she is born in December?  Questions, questions, questions! It's very sweet, and it's fun to educate her the best I can.  Oh, and I say She, because Lilia says She, because she wants a baby sister.

We picked a midwife, after a week of interviewing various ones.  All were wonderful, but I'm very positive I made the right choice.  I love having one less thing to worry about- and finding a suitable midwife was amongst my top worries.

Now to survive the next 27 weeks...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is it HOT enough for you?

This is my window thermometer.  The Red is Outdoors, the Blue is Indoors.  I live in Central NY.  This should be illegal.

So today, I am grateful for Central Air, and cheap pools.  Because seriously, today would be unbearable without those things. Oh, and Sun screen.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Good Bye Pre-K

Lilia's last day of Pre-K was Friday, and they had a little graduation ceremony for the kids in the class tonight.  It was quite the affair, with the kids singing songs, getting their diplomas, and then having refreshments.  One parent even put together a slideshow DVD of the years big events, and gave each family a copy.
My little attention ham is growing up!
I think Lilia had a really fun time, but she's going to miss school a lot.  She loves going to school, so much so that on days school was canceled, she'd cry.  But the good news is the school year is only a few months away, and she'll be at the same school, with many of the same kids, with a wonderful teacher whom she adores already.  It's nice too, because I don't dread that first day of kindergarten at all- I know how much she enjoys it, and I know it's a really good school.  John went there, with many of the same teachers and principal.

Now we just have to survive the summer.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I'm Back!

Did you miss me?

I took an unannounced hiatus for the last few months, mainly because I was sick as can be.  Turns out, I was pregnant, and it seems that with each pregnancy I have, I get worse morning sickness.

But here I am, 12 weeks along, and feeling a lot better than I was. I have energy for the first time in forever, and even managed to get things done around the house.  At the end of the day I'm definitely more tired, but at least now I don't quite so useless.  I managed to survive, but for one reason only- I have the most awesome husband EVER.  I'm glad that my first post back can be on this day.
Feeling better meant I could make pancakes for breakfast.
Lilia LOVES pancakes, and Letters.
Despite being the end of the semester, and being super busy, my husband stepped up and just took charge of the house and the kids while I whimpered in the corner of the house with my bucket and pillow.  He made meals,, he did laundry, he cleaned, he shopped...he took care of the kids- baths, school, playing, clothes, hair, lunches...the man was a SUPER man, and he never once complained about it, nor did he guilt me for all the work he did.  I am telling you- I am one lucky woman.  As I started to feel better, he didn't push me, he still pampered me and made me feel like a Goddess.  Last week, he drove me to three different midwives (all over an hour away from Herkimer) so we could interview them.

Liam ate his L and M before we could grab a picture!
And today for Father's Day? Do you think he took a break?  Nah- he took the kids outside and started working on cleaning and filling our small pool, and then went to Walmart and went shopping.  Now the pool is slowly filling, the kids are napping, and so is he.  I don't know how I ended up being so lucky, but I'm so happy to have such an awesome husband.  "Happy Father's Day", and "I love you, John" don't seem to be enough to convey how happy I really am.

For dinner, I'm making him his favorite meal- Home made Manicotti.  It's the recipe his Grandmother gave and taught me.

4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients- the batter will very thin.

Lightly grease a  7 inch skillet with oil, and place over medium heat.

Place about 1/8 cup of batter into the skillet, and cook like pancakes.  It should be very very thin- like a crepe.  They will also cook up very fast, so be careful!  I always just cooked it completely on one side, for about 1 minute, and then about 5 seconds on the other side.

2 pounds course ricotta
4 eggs
1/3 cup grated mozzarella + more for topping
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 TB parsley

Spaghetti sauce

Mix ingredients together, except spaghetti sauce.

Scoop 1 TB of mixture into the center of the manicotti shell, and roll up.  Place rolls in a single layer in a baking pan (I usually end up with 2 pans).  Layer sauce and additional mozzarella cheese on top.  Cover, and back at 375º for 25 minutes.

We usually freeze one pan, and you can take that out to defrost in the morning/afternoon, and then bake in the evening.  I also half the ricotta recipe quite often.  I never seem to make quite enough shells for the full recipe of filling.  It's absolutely delicious, and one of my favorite recipes to bake (mainly because of the memories I have of learning to make it with John's Grandmother.)  And it's probably John's favorite dish ever.  It's super good with home made sauce, but I didn't get a chance to actually make any, so it's a jarred sauce tonight.
Manicotti- fresh from the oven and being devoured very quickly.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A few necessary changes.

I'm going to go somewhere I've never really gone to on my blog.  Personal life issues.  But, this is going to be a big part of my life now, so I figured why not talk about it here.  I've had some health issues for awhile, and I admit, I'm not the best at taking care of myself.  But forces of nature were aligned in a way that I've been forced to take care of myself, and make some really hard chances to my life.
New staple...

I'm not thrilled, but I've had to cut all sugar, flour, pasta, rice, potatoes, and most fruit from my diet.  I can't even seem to have "artificial" sweeteners.  I'm trying to be positive, and look at it as a "challenge" to find alternatives...but really...I'm going to sulk a little and complain on how tough it is.

My normal preferred breakfast is steel cut oats.  I love oats, cooked in milk with fresh fruit added.  No need for added sweeteners of any kind.  Right now, I'm eating 2 eggs a morning, usually mixed with veggies, and a side of cottage cheese.  I haven't completely given up creamer in coffee, but it's one of those measure carefully types of situations.

Rinsed well, these are pretty decent.
Lunches are probably the hardest, just because I love soup, or ramen, or sandwiches.  Since all those are off the list, I've had to be pretty innovative.  Last week I made pizzas out of eggplant.  This weekend I did the same with zucchini.  I also made a spaghetti meal out of Shirataki tofu noodles.  They aren't the best, let me tell you.  They really taste like nothing.  If I made them again, I'd aim to use a better sauce, and maybe add some turkey meatballs, just for flavor.  More veggies, and a thicker sauce might help as well.  And cheese.  Or seasoning.

Dinners are the easiest though.  It's easy to pick a protein, do something delicious to it, and serve it up with a ton of vegetables.  We've already done a good amount of grilling in this warm weather, and I can think of a good number of slow-cooker recipes.  It's not easy though- some days you really just want a piece of bread, or a plate of pasta.  Or a bowl of oatmeal.  And we won't even get into desserts and snacks.  But as I adjust and learn new recipes, I'll try to share them.

At least I haven't had to cut dairy- home made yogurt with some chia seeds, a few blueberries and a small handful of granola have been the only thing that keeps me going in the afternoon.  I truly mean that too.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Please send the Sun!

Would anyone care to tell me where they placed my sunshine?  And warmth?  It's been almost a week since I had a chance to play in my garden!

Just last week...
We got peas in the ground, and cute teepee for them to grow up on.  They aren't tied together in this picture, but they are tied together now, and I can't wait to see them grow!  We also got carrots in, which I'm excited about.  They grew well last year, although I didn't even get all of them out of the ground before winter arrived.  This year I went with a Kaleidoscope mix, which has white, purple, yellow and orange carrots.

Tomato seedlings!
On my desk, which is in front of a Southern facing window, are my growing seedlings of tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.  They seem to be doing well- I noticed the tomatoes are beginning to grow their true leaves, which means I can transplant them to some  bigger newspaper cups soon.

We're supposed to get some warm days next week, so hopefully by this time next week, I'll have my lettuces, spinach, kale, bok choy, scarlet runner beans, onions, and sugar snap peas in the ground.  And then after that I'll be digging up at least 2 new vegetable beds, and creating a space for some herbs.  I also have a ton of sunflowers to put in this year, enough that we might have a mini sunflower forest growing in the yard.

Let's hope for some sun!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

This week in pictures.

I realized today that as the kids get older, and while in a busy school semester, I don't take many pictures...that's made me sort of sad.  So I'm going to try to remember to take pictures more often.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's time for things to start growing!

Tulips and Hyacinths
It's that time of year...well actually it's not.  My flowers actually started blooming in the end of March, after that week of super warm weather.  It's CRAZY.  I cleaned out one garden bed, but that literally took me all week, so when it returned to cooler weather, I had to postpone finishing the rest of the garden beds.  At least I have a small head start, right?

I started some seedlings for the vegetable garden today.  Tomatoes (Heirloom Rainbow), Eggplant (Black Beauty) and Peppers (Sublime hybrids).  Hopefully they will be sprouting in a few days, and then be ready for the outdoors in 6 weeks.  I can't tell you how giddy gardening makes me.

Pretty pink hyacinths
I'm enjoying my flowers this year.  Last year, I let them just go to see what grew, what didn't, what did I need to do.  Apparently I need to be handy with the pruning sheers because my flower beds looked like a jungle.  This year I'll aim to keep tight control of that.  I'm amazed at how much came back.  I didn't plant anything, and yet all the spring flowers came back.  About the only thing I didn't care for was the millions of mums growing, mainly because they just were not in a place I liked, so I ripped quite a few out...but I plan on adding my own stuff this year.  I love everything I find on so I might pick some kinds that I like, for my own touch.

And I plan on creating my own sunflower garden, on top of doubling my vegetable garden.  I already know I started too many tomato seedlings...and I plan on adding cucumbers, squashes, melons, lettuce, corn, kale, peas, and beans (totally making a bean pole/ living plant teepee this year...). I also have strawberry plants from last year, and blueberry plants, although I think I need to move them.  And I might start an herb garden, although I'm wondering if I could make one that could be moved indoors over the winter...not something I need to do, but I am curious.

The weather is supposed to be super nice this weekend, so I hope I get a little gardening time in.  I enjoy it so much, and just can't wait to get my hands super dirty while being in the sun.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

More Easter fun

My little helper
Lilia is on vacation...she started Thursday, and won't go back until the 16th. This seems like a crazy amount of time, particularly since John and Liam only get Monday off for Easter at the college. So what else should a mom and daughter do? We watched My Little Ponies, and made cupcakes. She even let me brush her hair and put it up, which I have to tell you is something so rare it needs to be marked in a memory book.  Seriously- the girl hates her hair touched (and I don't blame her- she has perfect curls that make brushing a pain, literally.)  She loves baking, and I don't do it nearly enough with her- mainly because I'm trying to lose weight, not gain it.  And since simple carbs are just one of those things I'm supposed to keep at a minimum...

I decided to make Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes.  I saw it on Pinterest and knew I had to do it, just once.  I didn't follow any particular recipe- there was at least three I saw on Pinterest (and brúlee and brownies, omg drooling...) so I used tips from all of them and used my own recipes.

I started with a basic chocolate cupcake recipe, adding cadbury mini creme eggs :

The Completed yummy!
1 stick Butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C. Sugar (I use organic cane sugar- I love that slight molasses flavor)
2 Eggs, room temperature
3/4 C. Flour
1 t. Baking Powder
1/4 t. Salt
1/2 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 C. Milk (I used 2%)
1 t. Vanilla

12 mini cadbury eggs (frozen at least 2 hours)

12-14 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, then turn it down to 350 just prior to baking- line muffin pan with heavy duty muffin liners (I can't tell you how much of a difference this makes.)

1. Beat the butter with mixer until it is soft and creamy, then add sugar. Beat about 3 minutes.
2. Add the eggs, one at a time beating until they are well combined.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, sift out any lumps and whisk them to incorporate them. Combine milk and vanilla.
4. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar and beat it just to combine. Add half of the liquids, scrape down bowl and beat to combine. Continue adding the dry and wet ingredients alternately making sure you end with the dry stuff.
5. Fill muffin tins 1/2 of the way, stick in the frozen mini eggs and cover until each muffin tin is 2/3 of the way full.   Bake for about 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool.

When cooled, I used a basic buttercream recipe:

1 stick of butter, room temperature
Powdered sugar
Milk (I used skim this time)
Vanilla (about 1 tsp)

Cream your sugar until light and fluffy, add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk alternatively, and slowly until you get your desired consistency.  Not too thick, and not to watery.  Save about 1/4 of the frosting if you want to make the cupcake look like a creme egg.  Frost with the white frosting, and then mix the remaining 1/4 of the frosting with yellow food dye.  Add a "yolk" and voila! A deliciously sinful Cadbury creme egg cupcake.

Thank goodness I've only eaten one, and half of the cupcakes are gone.  Between cupcakes, easter candy, and the girl scout cookies that arrived from my's gonna be a tough few weeks of me versus the scale.  I think I need some extra treadmill time...