Wednesday, March 28, 2012

the pinterest peep cake

Mom's birthday was last weekend, and I couldn't resist sharing with you the adorable cake the kids and I made based on one I saw on Pinterest! It turned out super cute and the kids really enjoyed the decorating process, lining up all the chocolate chips in the center of the sunflower, especially. Happy Birthday, Mom!

another beautiful day

This morning my boy and I enjoyed not one but two fun treats: first, a library-sponsored performance by Bridgette and the Band, a fun Caribbean-themed duo performing kids music. One half of the duo is my friend, Dawn (yes, the other is Bridgette), and we had never seen her in concert before. So much energy in a room full of preschoolers and moms (and gramma's and nannies, etc.). It was loud and joyful and over all, fun.
After, we were able to go to a beautiful park just around the corner from that library, Quiet Waters Park, for fun at the playground and a little hiking around. This afternoon we are going to have storms around here, but while we were out it was gorgeous, about 70, sunny and breezy. A great day for a picnic and some fun with my boy.
rolling down the hill...

It has been fun adventuring with my boy the past two weeks, but I am really looking forward to next week, which is spring break for the girlie (and to summer vacation not too far off!). We should have some good adventures to share...not sure what yet, but I'm sure we will be off adventuring!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

cherry blossom time

T.J. took this picture...not bad for a 4 year old!
It was a beautiful day in Washington, D.C. I have never seen the cherry blossoms at their peak, and today was definitely a "peak" day. The boy and I went down this morning (while girlie was sadly at school and her daddy at work). How fun to have no agenda but to see the trees. And so when we got to the tidal basin and found out we could paddle boat for just $12 an hour, what a bargain! It was overcast but so very pretty, peaceful out on the water, and we could see it all. (Plus I got a pretty good leg work-out since 4 year old legs are pretty short!). Afterwards, we had a picnic lunch and I let him direct our last hour or so over at the Smithsonian. Thus we saw:  cars, trucks, trains, and power machinery at American History; and dinosaurs, volcanoes and rocks at Natural History. And home again on the Metro in time to get the girlie off the bus.  I had to promise her we'd go back in 2 weeks when she is on spring break. Loved this day. Every minute.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

garden journal 3.20.12

It's spring! It has felt like spring for a while around here this least for the past two to three weeks, but I was a bit too nervous to do much with the garden before now. But now its officially Spring! Hoping to get down to D.C. to see the cherry blossoms with the boy tomorrow (may have to bribe him with time in the Smithsonian but thats fine too!). Today, though, I picked up my last few seed packets and am trying to figure out my garden layout so I can get the early stuff in: scallions, carrots, peas, lettuce.

On Sunday, hubby and I turned the soil, and added 2 bags of Leaf-Gro compost to each bed (1 bag/16 sq feet) which seemed about right.  Strawberry plans from last year are growing well and hopefully will produce more fruit this year.  Now to get moving! This is where my garden is this afternoon:
On paper, in my head, on the computer screen, and in lots and lots of seed packets. I'll need to buy my tomato seedlings but not for a couple months yet. Hopefully I'll get the plan made today, and seeds in the ground by tomorrow. Hurrah for Spring!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

this week

This week I have...
...enjoyed the earliest spring I can remember, as exhibited above! Windows are open, birds are singing, (allergies are in full swing), sun is shining. Life is beautiful.
...made my first (but not last) batch of homemade granola (recipe to come soon...). Low calorie? No. However...yum.
...signed back up for Weight Watchers (after a break of about 5 years).  Looking  forward to seeing the scale going down. In the meantime, re-learning how to eat, what to eat, and how much to eat. Which, I won't lie, is not making me very happy.  I'm trying to figure out how to balance my love of baking and cooking (see granola, above) with the kinds of foods that WW is telling me I should be eating.
...started reading Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst, which is challenging me to eat healthy for the right reasons.
...been living with a four year old boy who really wants to give up his afternoon nap. He really needs that nap, however. And so we have been riding the rollercoaster of fussing and tantrums on the days when sleep is really needed.
...pondered getting the garden started this weekend. As warm as it has been, this may even be a week or so later that it should  have been. To do: buy some compost and mix it in well, get lettuces and peas and anything else cold-tolerant planted.
...been working on some knitting projects that have been "in progress" for far too long. And realized that I never did get photos of the kids wearing this year's knit hats, having never had a good snowy day to take those pictures!
...been adding bookcases to an upstairs area, because you can never have too many bookcases or too many books. And dreaming of a big soft squishy beanbag chair to make it into a cozy reading nook.
...gone with hubby to a parenting seminar by Tim Smith, who wrote The Danger of Raising Nice Kids, and been challenged to be more intentional about teaching character to my kids.

Happy (early) Spring, Everyone! Get outside and enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

create:: the everything bag

I've been loving this new book by Tanya Whelan, Sew what you Love!  There's nothing more fun than a new sewing project and even better, a whole book of them! Tanya's projects are well written, not too complicated for beginners, and with details that are interesting enough for those who have been sewing a while. The designs are classic with a modern flair, and great for showing off wonderful patterned fabric.

The other thing I love: I am a bag-a-holic. I cannot resist a wonderful totebag. In my opinion, you cannot own too many wonderful bags. Great for shopping, lugging things to work, and of course, for project bags for knitting and other creative work!  And this book has not one but lots of fabulous bag patterns.

So the first project I tackled from this book was her Amelie bag, a present for a friend who just might need a big bag to carry things around in! I used a wonderful patterned fabric that I got on clearance last year and some remnant fabric, and it came together beautifully. The darts in the bottom make it great for holding books and with some interfacing, it felt quite sturdy. Plus I love the divided pocket inside, just the right size for a cell-phone and sunglasses.
I can't decide if my next project will be to make one for myself, or to try another pattern. So many choices. But I think a trip to the fabric store may be involved! Happy sewing, everyone!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

knit:: preemie hat

Here is my first developed knitting pattern! I have a friend who is adopting a preemie, and all of the hats I have knit previously were going to be much too big, so I scoured the internet, saw a lot of hat patterns that weren't quite right, and developed my own. I am making this pattern freely available, please feel free to use it for gifts or charity knitting, but not for sale items, please!

Preemie Hat

You will need:
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft, not very much, good to use up leftovers from other projects!
 (you can of course substitute any similar guage yarn, but please use cotton or man-made fibers like acrylic as NICU's often will not accept animal fibers due to sensitivities and difficulty washing them).

Needles: Size 6 double-pointed needles (4)
Notions: Yarn needle for weaving in ends, scissors

Guage: about 26 sts / 4" in st st  

Cast on 52 stitches onto one dpn, using cable cast-on.  Distribute stitches around 3 dpns,  and join being careful not to twist. Knit in K1P1 ribbing for 2 inches. Then knit in st st for 2 inches, knitting every round since you are working in the round. Begin decreases as follows: next round: k2tog around entire round (26 sts),  knit one round, then k2tog the next round (13 sts), knit one round, and k2tog (you will have 1 odd stitch that you can't k2tog, don't worry about it--7 sts). Break yarn leaving about 8-10" tail, and thread tail through remaining stitches, pulling tight and fastening off securely before weaving in ends. Fold up the brim about 1 to 1.5 inches.

Ta-da! Finished hat size: about 8" circumference, which fits a medium to large sized orange(!), or a 3-6 pound preemie.
(Ravelry link to pattern information)

I'm back...with banana bread!

Not sure where the time has gone...2 weeks since I last posted? How did that happen? The good news is that the creative spirit is alive and well around here. I've been knitting, and sewing, and baking, all of which you will see more of in coming days. And we've been doing a major purge around the house! Most of the big baby equipment/furniture is gone, and hubby and I have been sorting paperwork that for the most part should have been shredded years ago! (Side note: by the end of this process we may need a new shredder!)

But since you, dear reader, probably don't read this blog to hear about our paper pile-up and craigslist adventures, I bring you a "taste" of what we've been enjoying lately: banana bread! Today is sunny and over 60 degrees out, but we have had our share of cool and rainy days, dreary afternoons that scream for warm baked goods.  Banana bread is comfort food at its finest...good for breakfast, snack, it doesn't last long around here! 

This recipe was my mom-mom's, and I have no idea where she got it--from her mother, a magazine or newspaper, or a friend.  But it is irreplacable.

 Banana Bread
makes one regular sized loaf
1. Cream together 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup butter or margarine, beat until light, 
2. Add 1 egg, and 2 mashed bananas (extra ripe ones, you know, the brown yucky-looking ones left on your counter that everyone has been avoiding). 
3. In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp baking soda. 
4. In a measuring cup mix 3 T. milk with a little lemon juice or vinegar (about 1/4 tsp) to make sour milk. You can also use buttermilk, but honestly, its just not something I ever have on hand, so I stick with the sour milk.
5. Add dry mixture and sour milk to banana mixture in several portions, alternating between the flour and the milk. 
6. Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired and your kids will eat them!
7. Grease a standard loaf pan (cooking spray is fine). Bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean and bread is golden brown and delicious looking.
8. Try to wait for it to cool a little before eating...but not too much. I love it with a little butter, but it's pretty good plain too. 

Hope you enjoy!

Note: after completing this post, I realized I have blogged about my Mom-Mom's banana bread before...obviously it is a rainy day tradition around here! This time you get the recipe.