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Thursday, February 28, 2008

sometimes i wonder what it would be like.

while my boys are busy with art projects, eating a nutritious snack , or just being boys... i sometimes imagine what it would be like to have a girl. after all, they are sugar & spice & everything nice. i'm sure my days would be filled with afternoon tea parties & princess dress-ups. & i can't stop thinking about all the fabulous crafty projects: felt mary janes, punk rock onesies, paci clips & hair bows. until that day comes, i guess i'll just have to live vicariously through my friends & make all the cutesy stuff for the baby showers. oh well... & if i never have a girl, i guess it's not such a bad thing. that will definitely mean there will be less drama in the house & i won't have to worry about fixing any one else's hair but my own. that's not such a bad deal.

they're obviously boys.

they pretend they're bob the builder, or is it handy manny this week?
i never seem to remember.

they eat ribs.

they cheat at skeet ball.

they push cars & go "vroom!"

be creative.

i'm loving sephora's new ad campaign. for me it's a good reminder that creativity & art can be anywhere & everywhere you look. in the words of some of the greats...

you can't use up creativity. the more you use, the more you have.
- maya angelou

when i no longer create anything, i'll be done for.
- coco chanel

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

it'll be jeffy, me & amy in the bedroom tonight.

that's because i've finally finished my quilt. i started it forever ago. i can't believe it's finally finished! to be honest, it was a snap to sew the quilt top. i used the turning twenty pattern & just added an extra row or two (i wanted it to fit our king size bed. so instead of a quilt that measures 70" x 86" mine is 84" x 117"). next came the easy part, dropping it off for my cousin to do the machine quilting with all the lovely loop-d-loops (which i'm sure have a proper name, although being the novice quilter that i am... i'll just stick with loop d loops). when i got my quilt back, all that was left, was for me to the binding, & yet i just never got around to it. i needed to cut my fabric on the bias to get the diagonal lines for my binding, & i didn't know how to do that. (so that was my excuse.) but really & truly, i just wasn't looking forward to hand stitching the back side of the binding (you know, after i attached the front side with the machine). so for months my beautiful quilt sat. but not anymore! i can finally proudly announce to the world that it's finished! and although my bedroom has never been the hot spot of the house tour, i may soon be inviting complete strangers up to check out my new little beauty. if he doesn't already, i'm sure the ups guy will soon love amy butler as much as i do! anyway, i know i'm being silly, going on & on. heck! it's just a quilt... but i feel like a proud mama, wanting to show everyone her brand new little bundle of joy. so, everyone, meet my quilt. it's so bright & cheery - just like a little bit of sunshine in my room. (click on the pictures to enlarge their loveliness.)

tea anyone?

ever since i was a little girl i've had a thing for pretty tea cups. there is something so lovely about how delicate & dainty they are. so when i spied THIS clock in country living magazine, it came at no surprise that i wanted it immediately! unfortunately the price tag blew me away. but if i put my thinking cap on, i bet i could figure out a way to make it myself. (super duty craft glue could probably do the trick.) what a fun excuse to go hunting through yard sales & antique shops. i think i'm up to the challenge, are you?

Monday, February 25, 2008

playing on my ipod.

me & my nano... we're super tight. we have a standing appointment every morning. but as you know, daily rituals can get boring, even a little stale. in order to spice it up a bit i've added a new song to my play list. although, as i have done in the past, i must first pause for a brief announcement: i think it's imperative that i warn you - i'm not a musical genius. i'm definitely not known for my taste in music, i don't know bands & i'm generally the last to find out about the next big thing. now that you've read the disclaimer... the newest tune to get my toes tapping, my feet racing & my heart pounding is the ting ting's song that's not my name. check out their live performance HERE.

something's been keeping me busy.

i don't know if i can pick just one.

i'm not sure what the
best part about
making carrot cake is... licking the batter off a spoon? (if you love batter, then this one is a winner.) sneaking some frosting? (cream cheese frosting, need i say more?) eating the actual cake? or devouring the graham cracker sandwiches made from
the leftover frosting?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

it puts a smile on my face...

when i realize that, without even meaning to, my shoes & apron totally match. to bad i was the only one who noticed.

Friday, February 22, 2008

i need a little help from my friends...

as you may or may not remember i have this lofty goal... creating a 6 week menu plan. trying to account for eating leftovers, pizza nights & going out, i'm figuring i need about 24 different meals. so finding these 24 meals has become a quest for my own, personal holy grail. see i don't want just okay meals, i want great meals. when i ask jeff how he liked dinner, i don't want to hear "hmm, it was good". i want to hear "wow! that was great. when do we get to have it again?" so i've been perusing my shelf of cook books, looking to add some new favorites to my list of tried & trues, but that's where we come to my next problem... my cook book phobia. they are pretty to look out, fun to read, but when it comes down to it, i have a hard time picking recipes to try. that's where you come in. i've noticed i have a large supply of rachael ray's cook books. the idea that i can prepare a great meal in just 30 minutes totally grabs my attention. but i have to be honest, i've never tried a single one the recipes. so i'm looking to all of you for a little guidance & help. i know there has got to be a fan (or two) of rachael ray's out there. so tell me, which of her recipes are your favorite? i'd love to break in my cook books, but i definitely need a little help from my friends to take that first step. help a girl feed her family...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

always on hand.

there are several meals that i always have on hand... perfect for those days (or weeks) when i don't quite make it to the grocery store. this is one of those meals. growing up my mom used to make it & i think her mom made it, while she was growing up. it's pretty basic but good - why else would the recipe have been passed from generation to generation?


1 lb. ground
1 bag of thawed o'brien potatoes (cubed potatoes with onions & bell peppers, found in the freezer section)
1 or 2 cans of corn

brown the ground beef in a pan, discarding any grease when finished. after browning the meat add the o'brien potatoes & corn and cook until the potatoes are soft.

best served with lots of ketchup.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

who says t-shirts are boring?

a couple of gal pals & i got together a couple weeks ago for the first (of hopefully many) "not your mama's craft night". instead of the basic sewing or scrap booking, we are trying to venture outside the craft box... share ideas, try something new & hopefully meet a friend or two, in the process. this month's installment had us making freezer paper stencils. ridiculously easy, seriously fun, & very addicting! basically all you do is draw your design on the non-waxy side of the paper & cut it out using an exacto knife. then place the freezer paper waxy side down on your fabric & iron. viola! instant stencil. paint (using fabric paint of course!), let it dry & then peel away the stencil. most people would be finished at this point, but i couldn't stop thinking how much cuter my tees would be with a little added umph! so, i headed to the sewing machine for a little extra embellishment. who knew freezer paper could provide hours of entertainment.

double trouble.

they found the cookie dough... enough said.

it's shaping up to be a LONG week.

unfortunately this wasn't an art project gone wrong. earlier i had picked up a few supplies for some projects i was working on. while i was upstairs putting owen down for a nap, gavin decided to test out some of the paint. (how he managed to get off that safety seal, i'd love to know.) luckily the paint was non-toxic & the rug he choose to perform his experiments on is also red. so although he'll be wearing a slight stain for the next few days, we did manage to avoid a total catastrophe. i wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

we closed the place down.

it definitely wasn't anywhere i actually would want to be, i can't imagine anyone who would... & yet it was packed. every seat was filled & the door kept swinging open. more & more people continued to enter & yet very few seemed to ever leave. at first we waited patiently & when they called our names quickly, i got excited. but that excitement faded quickly. they ended up just herding us in another direction... not much going on there. although we did manage to scrounge up a few books & magazines to help pass the time. i tried to avoid looking at the clock because that actually seemed to slow time down. but, suddenly we were all alone... slowly, every other person had been poked, prodded & sent along on their merry little way. & yet little gavin & i still sat, bundled up in our pajamas, huddled around my cell phone watching cartoons. by this point, the "open" sign had been turned off & the doors locked for well over an hour. wanting to get home to his lovely wife, i assume, the security guard finally asked me whether i still needed to be seen. just as i was about nod yes, the door i had been eyeing for over two hours finally opened & out walked a nurse calling our name. we jumped up, nearly tackling her as we raced towards the exam room. imagine my surprise to find out we had waited all night for the doctor to perform a procedure i could have easily performed on my kitchen table, costing me a total of 5 bucks. although i was definitely relieved i didn't have to pin gavin down as they stitched up his split chin, i do have to admit that i was a little frustrated i had waited all night for them to apply super glue. okay okay, so it wasn't really super glue, at least they had a different name for it. but, it's basically the same thing & i know for a fact that you can use super glue to hold together cuts & gashes (jeff always takes it on his surf trips for such purposes). life with boys can always be so exciting.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

enjoying the ride.

life can be busy at times, if not hectic. i can handle the busy, it's the hectic-ness that overwhelms me. i've got a list of to-do's that have been piling up & it's high-time i get around to putting little check marks in the boxes. so don't worry if i don't post over the next couple of days... i'm still alive & kicing, just taking some time to clear my head. gordon b. once said:

life is like an old-time rail journey - delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. the trick is the thank the lord for letting you have the ride.

over the next week or so, i'm hoping to simply take some time, admire the views & learn to really enjoy the ride.... be back soon.

*pictures like these leave me wishing i could pack my bags & jump on the next plane. no mater how you travel - plane, train or automobile, europe is awfully pretty. i'm currently dreaming & re-living my days spent in ireland & switzerland.

Friday, February 8, 2008

life isn't a destination - it's a journey. we all come upon unexpected curves & turning points, mountaintops & valleys. everything that happens to us shapes who we are becoming. and in the adventure of each day, we discover the best in ourselves.


image via flickr

Thursday, February 7, 2008

i've been doing some thinking.

this morning my nano was missing, (more than likely the work of two little boys.) resulting in the opportunity for me to do a lot of thinking on my morning run. as they say in beauty & the beast "a dangerous past time, i know"... but, today, i probably needed it. lately i've been feeling a bit overwhelmed & i thought the time to ponder & self-reflect might do me some good - i might be able to come up with some solutions. yeah, it didn't really work up out like i planned. i'm still at a total lost & so i turn to you. how do you manage life? okay, i'll admit, that's very broad & a little vague. like all of you, i've got a lot going on in life. someone might look at me & see simply a mother or a wife, but there's definitely more to me than that. i'm also an accountant, cook, daughter, concierge, laundress, sister, secretary, entrepreuner, nanny, therapist, seamstress, friend, chaffeur, director of business development, gardener, personal dresser, decorator, handyman, dog walker, teacher, maid... & those are just the titles that spring to mind quickly. the point being, as i mentioned earlier, i'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. and don't get me wrong, i LOVE my life & wouldn't change it for the world. i'm not at all complaining, i just need help learning to manage it all. i mean, let's be honest here... i only have two kids, neither of them are in school & our only extra-curricular activity is swimming. in a couple of years i may (or may not) have a whole herd of children, i'm sure one or two will be in school & i'm almost 99% sure i'm be driving them to a whole slew of activities. so if i feel like i'm dropping the ball now, i don't even want to think about what it's going to be like then. so what are your thoughts? suggestions? any self-help books i should read?

& while we're on the subject... a little bit of an off-shoot i'd like to explore involves blogging. more specifically, how do you manage the whole blogging aspect of life? for example, for me blogging is definitely addicitive. i love having a place where i can post my "thoughts & ramblings about life." i love being able to conncect with people - friends, family & people i never would have otherwise met. i love being exposed to new & inspiring ideas & i love the connection i feel to the world around me. but, like everything in life, blogging does come without it's downside. lately i've been using a reader, definitely a handy little tool, but sometimes it can get overwhelming (for lack of a better word) when i sign in & i have 250 new posts to read. plus, i've found myself getting lazy when it comes to commenting, because it takes a little bit more effort. &, as much as i love reading blogs, i have to be careful. for one thing, it's so easy to go click, click, click & suddenly i've wasted hours, just staring at the computer. not to mention, if i let them, sometimes reading blogs can leave me feeling like i suck. (maybe you know the feeling? you aren't talented or creative enough? or you feel like a crappy mom, wife or friend?) anyway i've totally digressed. basically, i'm just interested in how you like to blog. do you post only when the mood strikes? do you read blogs daily, several times a day, a couple times a week? do you like to comment are you a lurker? what are you're favorite things about blogging? anything you dislike about it?

oh wow! this post is much longer & much more intense than i ever intended. hopefully i'll find my nano & will be able to avoid further thinking. in the meantime, what your thoughts on the subject(s)?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

perfect for a cold winter night.

sweet potato corn chowder

1/2 pound smoked slab bacon, diced
1 1/2 pounds red bliss potatoes, scrubbed
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (1/4 inch dice)
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper (optional)
4-5 cups chicken stock, or to cover
3 cups fresh, frozen or canned corn kernels cooked until just tender
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

in a large soup pot, fry the bacon over medium heat just until it starts to crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. remove & set aside. add onion, red pepper, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram to bacon drippings. saute 10 minutes. meanwhile, quarter and slice the red potatoes by hand or in a food processor, about 1/4 inch thick. add the sweet & red potatoes to the soup pot, add enough stock to cover the potatoes,& bring to a simmer over medium heat. simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. mix cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water & then stir into soup mixture. heat to boiling, stirring constantly, cook until thickened. reduce heat, stir in the brown sugar, bacon, corn, parsley, scallions, & cream, and cook until heated through, stirring often.

season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.

i rocked the vote did you?

who's your pick? whatever you choose, it's just important to vote. if you don't, then you can't complain for the whole year... at least that's what sherri shepard of the view said HERE. (she didn't realize that these elections affect the next four years. she also has never voted before because she "never knew the dates or anything.") so pick your guy (or gal) & go vote!

*bumper stickers available HERE & HERE.

brotherly love.

keeping the hair out of my eyes.

last week i was doing some sewing & i found myself constantly blowing at my bangs to keep them out of my eyes. my hair is in this self-imposed, weird stage. my bangs are long, much longer than i'd like. but i'm just not sure what to do with them. i've been attempting to go for that swept to the side bang look, but my bangs just do really go there. i'm not sure if i should go back to the straight bang look, or if i should just grow them out... (although, i think i look kinda boring without bangs. i need them for the little umph! they add to my face.) not able to make a decision, the bangs are now, just in the way. anyway, back to my story. not having any bobby pins on hand (& i can't wear traditional headbands because they just make my head hurt), i ended up tying a piece of fabric around my head, a la 1950's housewife style. later i found myself liking the way it looked & i realized if i'd just sew a bit here & there, i'd have the makings of an awfully cute headband (or ascout, ha ha ha), that wouldn't give me a headache.
so if you're at all interested in making your own super chic headband, here are the instructions: (click on the pictures to enlarge.)
1. cut two strips of fabric. (i actually used two different fabrics, so that mine would be reversible.) you'll also want to measure your head to get an approximation for how long the fabric should be... i cut my fabric 2.5" x 33.5", but i didn't want really long "tails".
2. using a hard edge (i used my fabric ruler), draw a curve (on the wrong side of the fabric) from the midpoint on the 2.5" edge (at 1.25") to the midpoint of your length (for me it was at 16.75"). (you'll want to draw this curve twice, along the top long edge & the bottom edge as well). once the curves are drawn, fold both fabrics in half & cut. does this make sense? basically you just want a slight curve that comes to a point on the short edge... (check out the pictures.)
3. with the right sides of the fabric together, sew (using a 1/4" seam) around the edge of the headband, leaving approximately 2-3" open (so you can turn it).
4. using your fingers, turn the headband right side out.
5. iron your headband, especially along the seams. also really iron at the "opening", folding under the edges of the "opening" & create a good crease.
6. using your sewing machine, top-stitch the entire headband, getting as close to the edge of the fabric as you can... making sure you stitch down the edges of the "opening" so that "opening" is now closed.
7. tie your new creation around your head & your finished!

Monday, February 4, 2008

when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

but when you've had your fill of lemonade & lemon bars, what do you make next? my mom's lemon tree is producing like crazy this winter! (which is great for us because ours froze last winter.) we actually have more lemons than we know what to do with! any suggestions? anyone want some freshly picked lemons?

Friday, February 1, 2008

superbowl sunday, what's for dinner?

every year my in-laws host a super bowl party & every year i look forward to my mother-in-law's "soup bar." she always has two - three soups cooking on the stove for everyone to enjoy, it's a great way to serve the crowds. last year her tortilla soup was especially good, so i thought i'd share (hope you don't mind stef)!

stef's superbowl tortilla soup
boil and shred 4 chicken breasts

sauté 1 chopped onion until softened, in olive oil
add 6 cloves of minced garlic &1 can of diced green chilies & continue sautéing until garlic is soft, then add it to the stockpot with the chicken.

add to stockpot:
1 can tomatoes with jalapenos
2 cans of chicken broth (or 1 chicken and 1 beef)
1⁄2 cup -1 cup medium salsa
1 can tomato soup
2 soup cans of water
1⁄4 cup cilantro
1⁄2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste

simmer 1 hour

to serve: garnish with shredded jack/cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, avocado.

image & guacamole recipe found HERE. (although it is in spanish.)

*just a little update... my mil made it again this year, & it was just as yummy as i remember. this time though, she wanted to change it up a bit, so she also added 1 can of black beans (drained) & 1 can of corn (drained). just thought i'd share.

it's official, he's a fish.

today we experienced a first: swimming with goggles.