Monday, January 31, 2011

Bead and Ribbon Necklace

My kids took MONSTER naps the other day- we recently moved the tiny into her big sister's room, and nap times have been iffy at best.  Since I mostly resemble a large beach ball, but not so quick, these days, I needed something I could do sitting down...quietly...something productive....hey, have I ever sat down and made a piece of jewelry for myself??  Turns out the answer was no.  (I have a piece I helped my girls make for me...and a necklace that was deemed too frightful to give away as a gift...but I didn't think those counted!)

bead and ribbon necklace

Martha came to the rescue with a simple tutorial...which I read, and promptly ignored most of the instructions, to make use of what I had on hand (satin ribbon, fishing line, lots of beads, and some crimps.)  I love it- it feels "grown up," which is funny because I normally work in REALLY BRIGHT COLORS!  It's still bright colors, but these are almost subdued, right?

bead and ribbon necklace

The large gold beads are painted wood, the small rounds are stone (possibly jasper?), and there are a few celadon green pearls thrown in the mix too.  The ribbon was left over from my wedding reception.  If you ever need large quantities of ribbon, check out papermart.com, seriously.  100 yards of 7/8 inch satin ribbon is less than $5.  I get lost in that store every time I click over!  Boxes, bags, raffia, ribbon, custodial supplies, spools of tulle in tons of colors...it's endlessly fascinating to me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cooking in the Rice Cooker

I kept trying to think what to write...I'm not really "crafting" anything right now....my amazing energy spurt was rather short lived....BUT, I've actually been preparing meals!  My dad is a bit clairvoyant, and just *knew* that we needed a new rice cooker for Christmas.  I received a plain-jane cooker as a wedding gift- little metal pot, held about 6 scoops of rice, with an "on" button that popped up when the rice was done.  This new one?

Aroma 3 Quart or 4-20 Cups Rice Cooker & Food Steamer with Sensor Logic Technology - Recipe Book Included

For one thing, this one is BIG.  A 20-cup capacity means no more asking Aunt LoLo to bring rice to family functions!  A non-stick pot means no more hours of soaking after every batch of rice.  It even has a little cup near the lid hinge to collect the condensation before it drips on the counter, how nifty is that?

My kids adore white rice.  Actually, my kids love most anything white.  Bread, mashed potatoes, rice, cereal, pasta, tatties and neeps, crackers...if it is processed and pale, they are all over it like ...white on rice.  So, predictably, there have been big salty tears at the dinner table this week, especially when the toddler girl comes running to the table, clapping and cheering in anticipation of me opening up the rice pot...only to find NOT white rice.  Poor baby.  Someday she'll forgive for not letting her subsist on a diet of processed foods.

Anyway.  Recipes!  I've had way too much fun with this rice cooker (do you do anything fancy with yours??)

  • Oatmeal for breakfast.  Super easy way to get a hot breakfast on a lazy Sunday morning.  Takes longer to cook, but there's no tending!
  • Brown/wild rice cooked in chicken stock with black pepper and onions.  I love cooking quinoa this way too.  But be aware, this took nearly an hour and a half in the rice cooker on the "brown rice" setting.  It turned out amazing, but don't be putting your rice in at 5:00 and expecting dinner any time soon.  Just saying.
  • Rice with squash.  I cubed a danish/acorn squash, threw it in the steamer basket sprinkled with dried rosemary, and just let the squash cook while the pot of rice bubbled away.  It turned out FANTASTIC, especially served with a quick dipping sauce of soy sauce/peanut butter/sweet chili sauce/and a bit of water.  Oh, I'm not kidding anybody: I hogged most of the sauce and dumped it straight into my bowl.  Too bad no one else in my family likes spicy and peanut all in the same sentence!
  • Steamed gyoza-  I haven't done this in years, since I prefer my potstickers pan fried, but it's super easy to throw frozen pot stickers into the steamer basket to cook while your rice cooks below.  Plus, it flavors the rice a bit.  Yummy!  I'm excited, because I have bags and bags of homemade potstickers in the freezer that I know the kids will LOVE, even if they're steamed and not pan fried!
  • Tapioca pudding.  This was probably the messiest thing I've done, because it bubbled up a bit and I ended up cleaning out a gummy lid.  But still, to soak the tapioca for a bit and throw everything from my favorite recipe into a rice cooker, and just walk away?  Definitely worth a bit of cleaning up afterwards!  Just don't walk away too far- most recipes call for using a "porridge" setting that I don't have, so you DO want to stick around to check on it once in a while and stop the process when it's thickened.
So, nothing TERRIBLY fancy yet from our rice cooker, but still so nice to shut the lid and press a button!  It's like a crockpot...but faster.  And it cooks rice perfectly.  Yeah.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Play Room

It could definitely be said that I am nesting. Sakes alive.

But hey! I organized all the kids toys into little matching boxes with lids...and labels! Not surprisingly, the kids LOVE THIS. They can see everything! The labels were at Ernie's insistence- sometimes play time involves dumping out every single blessed box in this room, and the labels help her OCD little self deal with the clean up afterwards. Having a reading child is a wonderful thing!

Look! A play kitchen...with all the supplies divided into "Food," "Cooking," and "Dishes" boxes. Mimi totally doesn't get this system when it's clean up time, but thoroughly enjoys being able to find food to eat and dishes to cook it in. I might have over-thought this one? (Those boxes used to hold peaches. My sister and I, we went through a LOT of peaches this summer in a canning frenzy! LoLo, was the final count 4 boxes? 80 pounds?)

A dress up box! With a mirror! Ooh, and a little TV watching nook with tons of pillows and blankets. And a doll stroller abandoned by Mimi- I saw the way she was driving, it's no accident the stroller's outing ended upside down. It probably crashed and burned.

A very, very pregnant woman. Who just realized this shirt? Isn't flattering. Not after the 2nd trimester.

(Oh, and a basement playroom was a DEFINITE plus for this house when we chose it! With the exception of a few "tiny pieces" toys of Ernie's, every toy is down here.)
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Friday, January 21, 2011

The School Room

The "school room" got a little bit of extra attention this week. I helped the girls clear out the last of the toys from here, and I spent an evening moving the desks around, tossing about fifty-million old art projects, and organizing our art cupboard.

We've been doing school anywhere we land, but I want to have this room set up so that all four of us can comfortably be occupied when the baby comes. My favorite nursing chair is there, desks for the girls, all of Mimi's books, Ernie's school books and supplies, our art supplies, the easel, and a little boom box the girls can listen to songs on.

This cabinet was a huge score on Freecycle last year- one door had been torn off, but I actually like it this way since it reinforces that the uncovered side is free for anyone to use, any time. The side with the door is MY side!

Hmm...my lettering isn't showing up that great, but on the kids' side is board games, card games, paper dolls, a shelf for each girls' art supply box with markers and crayons and colored pencils, and finally the scratch paper and coloring books and a big box of "open art" supplies like stickers and such. Oh, our fabulous new Aquadoodle pad is down there, too- it was a gift from my brother, and the kids L.O.V.E it!

On my side, the top shelf is gardening supplies, followed by "my" art box and art supplies that kids need my supervision with like tempura paint and chalk. The bottom shelf has tons of fun stuff they can use, they just need to ask me first! That includes pipe cleaners, ribbons, clothes pins, construction paper, more stickers, butcher paper, raffia, more paints, little wooden pieces for painting, etc.



I actually organized this cabinet a few months ago, and I am THRILLED to say it stayed organized! Most of my work tonight was getting rid of things we didn't need any more, and re-packing things neatly into their boxes. That's a skill Ernie still hasn't mastered.

I still have a few minor things to deal with in this room-- hanging our classroom posters in visible spots, and putting up hooks to hang my tissue paper balls that are currently tossed on top of the cabinet-- but it feels good to have this room more functional!
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cooking


Cooking, cooking....how LONG TILL THIS BUN IS DONE?!?!!

Sorry, I'm kind of completely insane these days. Tonight's the full moon, right?? So....lots of ladies have their babies on the full moon. I'm sure it even works on ladies who by all historical records have another MONTH before any chance a trip to the hospital.

Sigh :)

But, I've been keeping busy cooking other things, too! I'm lucky enough to have a good friend with good kitchen skills, similar taste in food, and a daughter Mimi's age (her Ernie-aged daughter is in school during the days, much to Ernie's chagrin.) We've had a few cooking sessions, and the chest freezer is bursting at the seams!


  • A double batch of spinach and feta turnovers made about 20 for each of us.  I made these before Mimi's birth as well, HUGE hit with the husband!
  • A double batch of my favorite gyoza/potsticker recipe made about 80 for each of us (and cleaned the local grocery store of its entire stock of round dumpling wrappers)
  • A quadruple batch of my favorite biscuits, and we each have about 35 biscuits cut and frozen away for a soup night. (And can I say, I make a good biscuit?? Try the recipe!)
  • A triple batch of butternut gnocchi gave us each two trays full (and we ran out of time and tray space to make the potato/ricotta gnocchi- those are still to come!)


All those things, plus gallon bags of sloppy joe mix, beans, chili, and soup. Oh, and about 20 pounds of shredded cheddar cheese, plus mozzarella and parmesan. Add another 40 or so pounds of chicken breasts in various whole, cubes, strips, and cooked/diced variations. Yes. We shall eat well!

PS- Wonder Daddy says I was photo bombed by the hippo.  What do you think?
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Kids Made This: Really Big Canvas Art

When we moved into our current house, it had a LOT of stuff in it. Shelves of cleaners in the laundry room, a shed full of landscaping lights and hot tub chemicals, an enormous area rug, a rolling kitchen cart, a ladder....and these weird "finger painting" art pieces up on the wall. The entire house was painted in muted earth tones, and once we started bringing in our Crayola brand of crazy colors, they had to come down IMMEDIATELY. (Because really, by the time we were done, the room these hung in was yellow, basil green, and lilac.)


I spent a day coating them with lots of primer, and let the kids go to town!



These made fabulous presents for our Wonder Daddy, and we have super-unique art work that's kind of color coordinated for our yellow-basil-lavender room now. Perfect!

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vessel of Light


Taken January of 2010...before Baby Boy, before hair cut....but it IS a picture of me singing!


Every year our youth organization for the teenage girls, "Young Women," has an evening dedicated to welcoming girls who will be turning 12 during the coming year and graduating the primary program to move into the Young Women program.  (They'll stay in the Young Women's program until they graduate high school/turn 18, and then they move onto our women's organization, Relief Society.)  We call it New Beginnings.

This year, we chose the theme of the Ten Virgins: we need to fill our lamps with oil by doing good works, strengthening our testimonies, and living the gospel.  Our president found a fabulous song online, A Vessel of Light by Toni Thomas and Diane Tuiofu.  You can click on that link to download sheet music and see the lyrics- this piece won a Special Recognition Award in a 2007 Relief Society music contest.

ANYWAY, because we will have four youth groups combined that night, I offered to make a rehearsal CD for everyone to learn the song with, and recorded a vocals track for good measure.  My husband helped me make it on an evening when the kids were safe and asleep (and away from our NOISE) with their grandparents. Is this the first time I've been able to share a song that doesn't involve my point and shoot camera??  I believe so!  It's piano and vocals, on an actual microphone!  I'm singing STANDING UP!  It's always fun to record something on piano, then pretend I'm a rock star, singing along to the accompaniment in my head phones to record the vocal track.  Huge thanks to Wonder Daddy for helping record this and mix it down a bit.

It's a pretty song, I can't wait to hear the girls sing it for their parents and friends in a few weeks!  (Click on the link below, it should start playing the mp3 file in a new screen.)  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Making, Making!


A got a surprise Etsy request the other day for a beaded badge lanyard- a big surprise, because I'm not sure if I even have anything stocked in the Etsy shop any more, it's been so long since I checked.....anyway, these things are a blast to make! They're really similar to the beaded eyeglass chains (as in, they're both seed beads on beading wire) but I finish the loop to make a necklace with a badge clip in the middle. It was fun to get out all my supplies and make something useful.

I felt so adult: I didn't even pout when I lost 10 inches of beading, scooting the wire over to a measuring stick to make sure I'd gotten 32 inches. I used up every single red seed bead I had in that mixture, I was not happy to lose them all over the floor! I love the sparkle and crazy randomness of seed bead mixtures.

This one, I made a while ago. I just LOVE the colors on this- sparkly aqua things make me happy!


Trying to buy some time with a grumpy toddler son, my sister let him wear Grandma's vintage necklace. The beads flew a LONG way when he yanked it off! I offered to re-string it, since it needed new seed beads anyway; does anyone else find that vintage beads lose their metallic coating? Half of the remaining beads were gold, the other half were coral colored. So, now it's re-strung on floss with pretty silver beads. This necklace probably doesn't look long, but it's FOUR FEET of beads! Way too much fun to wear vintage jewelry like this, it looks just like candy I think.


A little clip I made for my little sister- it's organza with burnt edges, sewn together with a turquoise bead (I think- I know it's stone!) The organza was trickier to burn than I thought....or, rather, it burnt very well and my large circles of organza quickly became teeny tiny circles of organza. If you hold the fabric at a slight upward angle when holding it to the candle flame, you'll get a better curl on the edge. Just something I figured out.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Room!


Bedding and lamps from Ikea, afghan was crocheted by my grandmother's friend for our wedding, and the crocheted throw was done by my great-grandmother.  Vintage thrifted milk glass candy dish- it has a bunch of shop stuff I still have around.

The Master Bedroom! Isn't that a delicious blue? I absolutely adore it. I want to eat it with a spoon. Yes, I'm pregnant. We knew that. Such a perfectly creamy dreamy color, it's just a happy room to be in- the kids keep joining me whenever I'm in there, it just feels good!  My husband did so much over his vacation week between Christmas and New Years-

  • he raised the ceiling (it was bowed after a roof leak) 
  • sealed, primed and painted the ceiling
  • primed and painted the walls
  • replaced the old, too-loose, outlets
  • replaced the old light switches to match the white color of the new outlets
  • MADE a bed. 
My little brother agreed to come and help Wonder Daddy put our bed together- he blinked quite a few times when he arrived and I pointed him down the garage.  "He's down there, with the wood and the saw- he's ready for you!"  Poor kid thought he was here for a half-hour allen-wrench fest with an Ikea bed.  They did a gorgeous job, and I really have no good pictures to show.  It's a box, with four legs, and lots of slats.  And very, very difficult to photograph.  We're still deciding on headboard and a paint color.

BUT.  Guys, I can sleep on this bed.  I can roll over on this bed without gratuitous, pitiful, whimpering.  I'm not on the couch any more!  Who knew replacing the box spring with slats would make such a difference?


And this?  This I love- it's where Baby Boy will be.  (No, he doesn't have a name.  But we'll just call him Bam Bam.  Yes?)  His Nana made the quilt, and it is SO soft.


You can see the old wall color here.  Swine.  Light-guzzling swine.  Oh, and you can see our crazy assortment of blues-on-trial over on the right.  Ha.  We had splotches of paint, and taped up paint chips, for YEARS!  We tried and tried to find a khaki color for the ceilings that wouldn't turn spring green next to the blue, but they all did.  In the end, I love the white ceiling.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Playing with Biodegradable Packing Peanuts


Mimi making a "thing"

Back when I was a teen and in college I used to babysit two really great little kids. One year for Christmas I found them an enormous bag of colored bits of "foam" that would stick together if you got them wet. They were awesome! You could make them into crowns, bracelets, necklaces, robots...and they were simply colorful packing peanuts. You know the biodegradable ones? Yeah, they taste like Cheerios and they are SO sticky when you get them damp. Tons of fun for the kids to play with!

My husband's grandmother sent a Christmas package that was filled with these packing peanuts, so I saved them for a quiet day after the rush of Christmas. The kids loved them! I gave them a little plate of water with a rag on top for them to stamp their peanuts onto before sticking them together. The only thing was I couldn't convince my oldest girl to do it QUICK, so she ended up melting away half her peanuts, and her fingers got sticky, and the other peanuts started sticking to her...and she decided she'd had enough fun for one day. We have a ton left, I'm excited to play more with these!
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Friday, January 7, 2011

CSN Winner!

Congrats to Ticia!  Random.org picked comment number 2...and that's you!

Gray Day

It's another grey day around here. Drizzly rain finally drove away the last of the ice on our street, but we're expecting more snow tonight (did I tell you it snowed last week? It snowed. It was really, really, really cold for a few days. I felt fabulous! My husband loves it when I'm pregnant, he gets all the blankets x2 at night, when I throw all my covers on top of his side of the bed. At least THIS pregnancy, I'm not sleeping in shorts with the window open...in January...yeah, I did that to him. By the by, the area immediately to the right of the amazing carved stump is full of strawberry plants, that little stick in the lawn is our fig tree, and the bed on the far left is probably going to become home to a blueberry hedge (unless our neighbor on the right decides he's ready to put a blueberry hedge in with us, like he's been wanting to for years.) The area along the top of the wall on the right side will be bush squash and day lilies and nasturtium. The main garden beds are at the far end of the picture. The bones are there, just need the guts!



A few girls came over last night for a craft swap- we've all been crazily purging our houses, and I convinced them to purge their craft rooms with me. We all grabbed what we wanted to grab from each others' stash...and what's left is going to the thrift store! I love it.


36 weeks and counting. No, I won't give you a blow by blow account of my "progress" over the next few weeks. You're welcome :) (I wrote to an old high school classmate on Facebook the other day- I met his darling wife at our reunion, and knew she was due a few weeks before me. He wrote back with a DETAILED description of every contraction and dilation and set back she'd had for the last week. I said to myself "THERE is a first time father!" He's so excited :)



I cooked last night. I KNOW! Since I was starting with cooked and cubed chicken from the fridge (leftover from cooked and cubed chicken I thawed earlier for fried rice) this soup went from cupboard to table in about 12 minutes, and that included setting the table, serving, and pouring the milk. I'll do a real write up over on the Chow Review, but basically get a pan full of chicken broth nice and hot, add some corn, cubed and cooked chicken, and some salsa. Doctor it up with grated cheese, crushed tortilla chips, and sour cream at the table. It is AMAZING, I ate 3 bowls last night. Ernie ate two bites and said she was absolutely stuffed, and Mimi....grabbed the cheese bowl and chip bag and had herself a feast. As I said, I was enjoying my soup! Perhaps I should eat AFTER the kids, on the nights that Daddy isn't home? (I made a batch of yogurt yesterday too, and chocolate syrup today. Slowly I'm getting stocked up!)

There's still time to enter the CSN giveaway! I'll pick a winner tonight- good luck!
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What Is Yours Sitting On?

My parents are getting a new TV soon, and being the wonderful recyclers that they are, offered us their old one...and the solid oak entertainment center it's sitting in!  WOW is that thing heavy!  We've been measuring and considering if the center would fit, and it has me thinking about where televisions normally sit.  My grandparents had one one the kitchen counter.  My 7th grade science teacher had one on an arm on the wall.  We have one downstairs in a $99 cardboard/plywood entertainment center from Freddy's.  (Hey, I was setting up my first apartment, and I still love the cherry wood color.  It's held up pretty well!)

What kind of tv stand do you use?

CSN is offering a $45 gift certificate to one lucky reader!  It's good for anything, in any store...but not shipping.  Because that's not sold in their store.

I'm in a silly mood today.  To be eligible, answer this question:

What's the best movie you watched at home recently?

I'll close the comments Friday night and pick a winner!  If I don't hear back...I'll pick another one!

(For an extra entry, tell me how you first found me.  I'm curious.)