Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sleep Habits

The kids have always been great sleepers. Grace started sleeping through the night at eight weeks old and Frankie at just five weeks. We have always been strict with their nap and bedtime schedules, so much so that now they are like little clocks at bedtime.

{taken with my iPhone, sorry for the graininess}

However, they each have their own little habits for what they need to get to sleep. Grace is crazy about stuffed animals. She must have close to 50 animals. They each have a name, she knows where they all came from, some are friends with each other, some are not. The girl LOVES stuffed animals. If she could, she would sleep with them all every night. But that just makes for a riduclous mess and takes up a lot of her bed. I let her pick five of her most favorite animals to snuggle with at night. She tucks all but one into the bed, under her "fuzzy flower blanket" and finally falls asleep with that last one in a death grip. The funny part is, even with just five animals, she still sleeps on the very outside edge of the bed. I have gone into her room to check on her and she is literally starting to fall out of bed. Every night I push the animals out of the way and try to inch her closer to the center. But even in her sleep, it's like she knows, she must leave room for them. She always sleeps on the very edge of the bed.


Frankie, on the other hand, has really only ever wanted two things to sleep with; his yellow, fuzzy blanket and his blue Beany Baby bear, Blue Bear. When he was a baby, he would comfort himself by taking little bites out of the blanket. When I would move the crib to vacuum, there would be bits of yellow fleece on the floor. He would eventually fall asleep with the blanket covering his face. He could not fall sleep without it. Once I left it somewhere and he cried for two hours until Frank came back home with. He was so relieved to have it, he went right to sleep. (Side note: directly after that, I searched the internet until I found another yellow fuzzy blanket. I did not want to be in the situation again.) Since moving out of his crib and into his bed, he upgraded to a throw size fleece blanket. Again, he will not go to sleep without it. After his bath, he loves to go lay down (naked) on top of it. He says, "Mommy, this a warm". He loves to have the soft fleece up against his face. The boy loves his blanket.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Spy Printable

{found over at justsomethingimade}

This thing is so great, I had to share it. It seems like it would be useful for so many types of people; Moms/Dads, Grandparents, Aunts/Uncles, Babysitters, Anyone-Who-Might-Be-Around-A-Child-Who-Needs-To-Be-Kept-Out-Of-Trouble... Oh yeah, and kids will like it too.

When I gave this sheet to Grace, she looked like she was in heaven. It was as if her expression said, "You mean I get to answer all kinds of questions and then I get to color it TOO?!!!!". Then she passed out. Ha ha. Not really. But she loved it. Click here to download + print out the black and white pdf file yourself.

Here's hoping it buys you ten minutes, whatever you use it for.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's Cooking: Kitchen Sink Fried Rice


I love this dish. It goes together really quick, it's healthy + satsifying and empty's out any leftovers you might have hanging around in your fridge! How great is that?! I think the best part about this is that there really isn't a recipe per say. You just gather up any kind of vegetables you have, frozen or not, and throw it together. The biggest trick to it is to make sure your rice is COLD. Super, refrigerator cold. When the rice is cold, it holds the gluten together. Using fresh rice will only make a gummy mess of your meal.


Ingredients serves two

vegetable suggestions
Peas, Bean Sprouts,
Carrots, Green Onions,
Edamame, Green or Red Peppers,
Jicama, Broccoli,
Green Beans, Frozen Corn,
Asparagus, Cabbage/Bok Choy,
Zucchini, Mushrooms

2 T. Oil
2 c. Vegetables, chopped
2 c. Rice, white or brown
1 Clove Garlic, minced (optional)
1 T. Ginger, minced (optional)
1/2 c. Chicken Breast or Canadian Bacon/Ham
1 Egg, beaten
2 T. Soy Sauce

Heat oil in a large pan. Add any frozen vegetables first, in order to steam out the water. Then add the remaining raw vegetables, stirring frequently until they all start to soften, about 2-3 minutes. If using, now is the time to add the ginger and/or garlic. Stir only about 30 seconds. Add any meat you are using, stir about 1 minutes. Add the rice. Break the rice apart gently while mixing it in with the rest of the ingredients. When the rice is incorporated with the vegetable mixture, make a well in the center and add the egg. Cook and stir the egg until it is scrambled, then mix it into to the rest of the dish. Finally, add the soy sauce and stir to combine. To achieve some of the crispy bits, let the rice mixture sit, un-stirred for about 30 seconds, then stir everything around and let it sit again. Do this two or three times, depending on how crispy you like it. Add a cup of Jasmine tea and enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Aspiring Chef

The past few days, Grace has been making her OWN peanut butter sandwiches. She gathers all the ingredients herself and from start to finish, she makes the sandwich.






She is self sufficient!
At least with peanut butter...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Heart This Book

One of my big projects this summer is starting my garden. My vegetable garden. As much as I love going to the farmer's market, I can't wait to start harvesting my own produce. This book has only fueled my enthusiasm.

Outside of the beautiful pictures on glossy pages, Gayla really emphasizes the importance of growing food organically. Another thing I love is her ability to show me I don't need a huge amount of space to start growing my own food; simply having a window box would be enough to get started. The layout and basic instructions make this an easy read. I feel inspired when I read this book. I've left it out of my kitchen counter because just looking at it makes me excited. I'm even thinking about making a little garden apron! If you've ever thought about growing your own food or are just looking for a new coffee table book to help bring spring in, this is a great (and beautiful!) reference book to have.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hot Chocolate Spectators


The kids make it outside almost the whole time Frank snow blows. Then they get cold, come inside and warm up with hot chocolate. Sometimes they watch Frank finish up the driveway. Here they are with front row seats.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Keepin' Company


Grace likes to keep Frank company while he snow blows. She walks around and around the driveway with him; next to him but slightly behind. I love to watch them go by as they make their laps together. She slows her pace to match Frank's, never getting in front. They are a team.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's Cooking: BBQ Chicken Salad


I LOVE the BBQ Chicken Salad from California Pizza Kitchen. Sadly, there isn't a CPK in Alaska. That has left me needing to re-create my own version at home. It's pretty darn close, in my opinion. Hope you feel the same.

Ingredients makes two entree size salads

3/4 of a head of romaine lettuce
2 Roma tomatoes
1/2 c. jicama, peeled and chopped
1/2 c. jack cheese, shredded
3 T. cilantro, finely chopped
3/4 c. black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 c. frozen corn
2-3 green onions, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 Chicken breast, chopped (I prefer rotisserie chicken for this because it's so juicy)
BBQ Sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's)
Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch dressing (don't opt for a bottle ranch dressing; this step is already a short cut. Find the dressing packet in the salad dressing aisle.)
Lime wedges (optional)

I plate this salad up differently than CPK does. That being said, I also order it differently than they offer it on their menu. I always request romaine lettuce instead of the iceberg and I always ask for it to be tossed. Oh, and I ask for them to leave off the tortilla chips.

After I gather all my ingredients on the counter, I put the frozen corn into the biggest bowl I have. I do this first because by the time I'm finished with the rest of the chopping, the corn is thawed enough to not be frozen, but still be chilled. Then the black beans get drained, rinsed and added to the salad. Everything else just gets added in as you go. Next add the dressing. I left off the amount because everyone is different as to how much dressing they like. Remember, you can always add more later. At this point, I toss everything together and plate it up. Lastly, I drizzle BBQ sauce in a zigzag pattern over the entire salad, turn the plate 90 degrees and do it again. I feel like this is the right amount of sauce for the salad without overpowering it. If you're feeling very fancy, add a wedge of lime to your plate.

Umbrella Imagine Download

This image has been floating around all over the past few weeks, but I thought I'd share it here in case you hadn't seen it yet. I think it's just too pretty to miss.

{Installation by Spain by Ingo Maurer, photograph by Jesús Manuel Nieto Bobadilla.}

Brooke has edited the original version (which you can find here) and you can download + print here it out for free! Isn't it a great spring pick me up?! I'm thinking, pretty white frame, right next to my kitchen window...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Orange Icicles

The other night, I was walking through the house and the neighbor's roof line caught my eye.
I had to show you.

It was a little warm that day.
And by warm, I mean around 38 degrees. Just warm enough for things to start melting.

So, we've got the icicles and the sun setting behind them. Just beautiful.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Homemade Lunchables

The kids don't really like sandwiches. They will put up with a PLAIN peanut butter sandwich, but even then, Frankie will peel it apart, lick the peanut butter first and finally eat the bread. But they love crackers and meat/cheese combos. One day I thought I'd try making my own version of Lunchables. This is what I came up with. Success! They loved it. It's amazing how a cookie cutter is capable of transforming the plain jane into something so wonderful.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Just like Daddy

For the last five years or so, Frank has been carrying a flashlight on his belt. It's part of his "suiting up" in the morning. Wallet, keys, knife, phone, flashlight, check. He uses that flashlight ALL THE TIME. It amazes me how often it comes in handy. Some matchbox car rolled under the couch, get the flashlight. Something's stuck in one of the kid's teeth, get the flashlight. Need to make shadow puppets on the wall for some afternoon entertainment, get the flashlight. You get the point...

Frankie has picked up on this. He carries his little cheap-o flashlight around with him. Uses it to look for things under his bed and into holes. Just like Daddy. Here he is, looking into the screws that hold the potty seat on the potty. My little smarty.

Cake Face

This is the face Frankie makes after he's taken a bite of something he loves to eat. Here he is eating cake. He makes this face and tilts his head from side to side, humming, "mmmmmm. mmmmmm."

I am sick with a cold.

So this picture makes me smile.

Other things that make me happy are:

Husbands who take the kids out shoe shopping and come home with soup.

Washing machines with a child lock.

Uncle Mark taking the kids to the zoo.

MucinexD.

Cherry and lemon flavored Ricolas.

Citrus Chamomile tea.

See you tomorrow friends.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

iPhone girl


Grace loves to play games and listen to her music on my iPhone. She kept me company while I was folding the laundry by snuggling in my bed and singing Backyardagain songs.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What's Cooking: Joe Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting



This week brings us another treat, I know, but we do like our treats around here. This one is one of the super fav's. Grace doesn't care for the frosting, but she's crazy. This cake is dark and moist and excellent warm. Enjoy.

Ingredients

1 3/4 c. Flour
2 c. Sugar
3/4 c. Unsweetened Cocoa
2 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Salt
2 Eggs
1 c. Black Coffee (cooled)
1 c. Buttermilk
1/2 c. Oil
1 t. Vanilla
1 Recipe Peanut Butter Frosting (recipe below)

Directions

In a mixer, combine oil and sugar. Add eggs, coffee and vanilla. In a separate bowl stir together dry ingredients. Starting with the flour mixture, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the wet ingredients. Beat on medium high for about three minutes. Batter will be thin. Grease and flour pan. Bake at 350 degrees. For a 9x13 inch pan, bake for 35-40 minutes. For layer pans, bake for 30-35 minutes. For cupcakes, bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove. Cool completely before frosting. If you can!

Frosting
1 c. Confectioners' Sugar
1 c. Creamy Peanut Butter
5 T. Butter, soft
3/4 t. Vanilla
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/3 c. Cream (however, I always use whole milk because that's what I have on hand)

Combine the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Mix on medium low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl as you go. Slowly add the cream (or milk) and beat on high until the mixture is light and smooth.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Alaskan Winter Produce

Ever wonder what $10 worth of strawberries looks like? Well, here you go.

I'll tell you though, they were perfect.
Absolutely delicious.
I hate to say it, but worth every penny.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Grace's Chair

This is Grace's chair.

See. It says so.

It SAYS so.

I realize that these chairs are already not in the best shape. The booster seats have beat them up pretty bad and there are gouges all over them where people (two guesses as to which two people I'm talking about...) have jammed their forks and spoons into them. But before this, there weren't any CARVINGS in them. I can't really lump this into the "distressed" category anymore, can I?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentines for Boys


I found these super cute (and free!) Valentine printables over at Cameron Blazer's blog, Cottage Industrialist. The rocket ship and dino love are such cute and fun ideas. I thought these were such a great choice for little boys. Not that there's anything wrong with Thomas the Train and Lighting McQueen (the favs at our house), but it's nice to see something different. I think I like the rocket ship one the best.










Click here and here to download them yourself.

What's Cooking: Lemon Yogurt Cake

In an effort to perk things up around here, I'm starting What's Cooking Wednesdays. Since I love to cook and the kids love to help, I'm going to offer up some of our favorite recipes.

without the glaze

To start us off and to help fight the lingering dulls of winter, I'm going to share a lovely and fragrant lemon yogurt cake. I got this out of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. It's very easy to make. The cake itself is moist and delicious; the lemon is refreshing, not overpowering. I make it with and without the glaze, depending on how "healthy" I want it to be. Ha ha.

Lemon Yogurt Cake makes one loaf

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf
pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

with the glaze

***Chef Kariane's Notes:
Instead of parchment paper and greasing the pan, I use Pam with flour. LOVE that stuff. Nothing sticks.
I don't shift anything. I feel like that's a step I can skip at this stage in my life.
I do the wet ingredients in a big bowl first, then add all the dry ingredients, straight to the bowl. Saves me a bowl and still comes out great.
I use large eggs. I've made it with both and since I buy the omega-3 eggs at Costco and they only come in large size, that's what I've got on hand, so that's what I use.
I've found that the lemon sugar syrup goes on the best with a brush. I use one of those silicone jobbies. I can't say enough fantastic things about those. Love them.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chore Charts


A few months ago, I realized I needed to start giving Grace more responsibility. She's old enough to keep her room tidy, get dressed by herself, carry her dishes to the sink and I gave her the chore of keeping up on the cat's food and water. I wanted her to have a chore chart type of thing to be able to "see" her progress. After lots of searching I found this one. I love that I can completely customize the whole thing, including her name, to suit her needs. The wording on it, "this is how I help my family" is just want I want to teach her. That this house is for our family and since she is a part of this family, she needs to contribute to it.

She feels very proud when she can get a check and complete a whole line.

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