Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ah-Ha!!

Okay, so I've been racking my brain on this one for a long time. Well, a week and a half. But that's a long time for me to be thinking about one thing. So...you all know Big O got a train table for his birthday. And we (okay, Scott) has been arranging and re-arranging those tracks for him every night after work because our son can't help but destroy the intricate configurations we've set up for him. And of course, once the tracks are destroyed, O can't play with them and is back to looking to me for entertainment. No, that just won't do...I must find a way to secure those tracks down temporarily and without ruining the table. I certainly don't want to squelch any of his creative juices with a permanent solution. I think when he gets a little older, he will definitely want to create his own track masterpieces, but in the meantime, we've got to figure out how to keep the kid playing. On his own. Without me.

This is the stuff that keeps me up at night. I don't worry about burglars, or kidnappers, or ghosts...okay, maybe I do worry about ghosts, but for the most part, I lay awake at night thinking about finding solutions to small annoyances. Let me show you a glimpse of how my little brain works...

4 days ago, I decided to clean the garage. Let me digress a bit by saying that my garage is a dumping ground for all things crap. On a daily basis, I'll open the door from my kitchen and blindly toss whatever I don't want in the house, into the garage. Days, weeks, months later, I look around with complete disgust at the landfill it's turned into. Anyway, last Sunday I literally could not see my car over the huge mound of stuff, so I went on a cleaning spree. I came across a stash of clear mounting squares that I bought a while back but never used for whatever reason. I looked at them... and you could see the wheels turning in my head, but nothing clicked. I looked at them again, and put them away. Last night, as I was falling asleep, those train tracks kept nagging at me. It was then that I had my "ah ha!" moment, at 11:59pm. The mounting squares!! They would be perfect for securing the train tracks to the table!! This morning, I rushed out to my garage, found the squares and tried them out.

Brilliant.

Sometimes I just amaze myself :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Flaming Skulls

I don't understand it. I just bought new shoes for my son a couple months ago and now he has outgrown them...again. Since I can't tell how much he's really growing, shoes (and feet) are a really good measure of that. At the time of purchase, it seems as though his feet have an infinite amount of space that will take him forever to grow into, and, in the blink of an eye, his toes have reached the end, and beyond.

I've been looking around for some new kicks this fall season and have come up with a stylish yet comfortable alternative to the much loved Crocs he has been sporting all summer long. What I love most about his Crocs, aside from the impeccable design *sarcastic cough*, is the fact that Big O is able to put his shoes on all by himself. He can even tell right from left and turns all shades of upset when they're on the wrong foot.

So, what I ended up buying him are Vans, the classic slip-on sneaker. Now...when my baby was in my belly, I imagined he would be a clean cut, well-behaved, aloof, mellow, preppy kid. What I got was O-Dogg...a total punk. Messy, active, energetic, strong-willed, funny, silly, happy P-U-N-K. So, in keeping with his personality, I think Vans are a great fit. I ordered 2 pairs from Zappos.com to try on. One has a single giant flaming skull on the front and the other has lots of mini flaming skulls all over. Why the creepiness?? I don't know, maybe its my inner bad-ass being projected via my 2 year-old son. Maybe I'm passive-aggressively letting the other kids at his school know to "Back the eff off, or else!!". Most people know better than to mess with a kid who has one, or multiple flaming skulls on his shoes, right?? Really though, I just think they look super cool and I'm considering getting a pair for myself.





Which one do you like better??

Monday, September 14, 2009

MEme: Breathtaking...



It's Monday...and that means another edition of MEme's, brought to you by your friend and mine, MommyBrain & SupahMommy!!


5 White Lies I've Told

1. To my mom: "I am feeding your grandson lots and lots of vegetables and of course he NEVER gets any sweets."

2. To Scott: "Owen doesn't watch very much tv at all during the day."

3. To Owen: "Bob the Builder only wants to be friends with kids who take loooong naps, preferably twice a day."

4. To my Mom's group: "I just whipped up these tasty cupcakes from scratch and didn't even burn a thumb!"

5. To my dear friend Dana: "Of course I fed your cat every single day while you were on vacation."

Kidding...just making sure you were paying attention, MommyBrain ;)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Roasted Beet Salad


Beets...we all know what they look like but do people really eat them?? They have a bad rap, which is unfortunate because beets are highly beneficial to our bodies. Beets contain folic acid, which is recommended for pregnant women because it may lower the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects in newborn infants. Beets are also unique for their high levels of anti-carcinogens and are loaded with antioxidants that help the body fight against heart disease. But most people don't care for the taste of beets...I think they are absolutely delicious if prepared the right way. If you have never been a fan of beets, I would highly recommend this recipe...the combination of the goat cheese, arugula, walnuts and dried cranberries is fantastic and might just change the way you view beets from now on!

Roasted Beet Salad, recipe from Giada De Laurentiis
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 medium beets, cooked and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 6 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled

Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized and tender, stirring occasionally, about 25-30 minutes. Set aside and cool.

Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Birthday Playdate: Owen & Matthew




Matthew's new bouncy house


Our friend Riley


Sweet Sahara




The candle won't bite!! :)


O & M - born 3 days apart







Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to Owen: Evening Edition


Ah-choo!


Happy Birthday to you...


Happy Birthday to you...


Happy Birthday dear Owen....


Happy Birthday to youuuuu!!!!






Messhy






I love cars!

Happy Birthday to Owen: Morning Edition


Sleepy eyes...


that suddenly perk up when he sees his present!


I think he likes it!


Wow Mama & Papa! You're the BEST!!

























Happy Birthday from Mama, Papa & Thomas!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The 5 and 5: Fashion



MEme
is back and this one is right up my alley. Head on over to MommyBrain & SupahMommy to check out how this all started!

Five Worst Fashion Mistakes
(no pictures because I am the only one in the world without a scanner--hint, hint)

1. Leggings-I tried them out in 6th grade and it wasn't so good. Can you say camel toe?? Yeah, ewww. I see tons of cute girls wearing them now with the long flowy tops and I'm jealous. But I can't bring myself to wear them again... I've been scarred for life.

2. Baggy, and I mean really baggy, clothes - so big that my 6 foot 3 husband can wear them! No wonder boys didn't like me in highschool, they probably couldn't even see me under all that fabric!

3. To compensate for the bagginess, I started wearing really tight clothes and now when I look back at pictures of myself, I just cringe. Freshman 15 + skin tight pants...ouch.

4. Flannel shirts with Timberland boots - Idaho in the 90's!! Hey, back then I was considered ahead of my time!!

5. Being too matchy matchy - the shoes had to match the belt had to match the purse. Even my bra and underwear had to match each other! Thank god I am SO passed that! :)

And just for the fun of it, here are five items that will never go out of style...

1. Black mini-skirt: I've had this one since highschool and I just wore it again last weekend for a dinner party - granted it was a "trashy" theme I was going for- but it reminded me how much I like wearing skirts. I think I'll wear mine with black tights and a turtleneck sweater this winter.

2. Cardigan with matching shell: not to contradict my previous fashion mistake but when you have the option of a matching shell, ya gotta take it. I love cardigans because they work with everything - jeans, slacks, capris, shorts, skirts... Add a pearl necklace and it's so First Lady!

3. Two pairs of designer jeans: a longer one to wear with heels and a shorter hem to wear with flats or tennis shoes. Trust me on this one. I'm a jeans whore. I have more jeans than I know what to do with, both bargain and designer. It really does make a difference.

4. Navy V-neck sweater: I LOVE V-necks in general because they are so flattering but a navy V is the epitome of classic. Wear it with a white t-shirt underneath for a casual preppy look, or pair it with a collared button-up for the office. Just don't wear it with Khaki's...too private schoolgirl-ish.

5. A cashmere scarf: I have these in a few different colors and they really complete an outfit. I love all kinds of scarves but there's nothing better than a soft, luxurious fabric against your neck and face on a cold day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chicken Osaka

Laying in bed last night, I started thinking about a restaurant my BFF Kari and I would frequent all the time back in highschool. It was called The Mustard Seed and our favorite dish there was the Chicken Osaka. Stir-fried in a light ginger dressing, it was served with rice and this yummy mustard dipping sauce. Naturally, my curiosity got the best of me and I had to Google it to see if the recipe was out there.

I was in luck, with one caveat...not only was the recipe online, but there were several versions of it. Which was the real one and which was the impostor? After much investigation, I pieced together what I think is the most accurate version of this dish. Don't let all the steps and ingredients intimidate you. It's all very easy once you do the prep work---making the 2 different sauces. And both sauces keep in the fridge for up to a month and can be used on a variety of things-as a marinade, a salad dressing, tossed with pasta, etc. I hope you'll give this a try!

Chicken Osaka

Step 1: Make Ginger Dressing

1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 tablespoons ginger root, minced and peeled
1/2 rib celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ketchup
Pinch white pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar

Using a blender, combine all ingredients except the soy sauce and vinegar. Blend for 30 seconds. Then add the soy sauce and vinegar and blend for 30 more seconds. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Step 2: Cook the chicken

1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 to 3 slices fresh ginger, minced
½ lemon, juiced and zested

Chop up your chicken into bite sized pieces. Heat up your wok or if you do not have a wok use a deep pan. Add your 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the oil just starts to smoke add chicken, lemon juice, zest and ginger. Get the chicken slightly browned then add the Ginger Dressing just enough to coat. Heat through. *You can add more ginger dressing if you like, just don't overheat or sauce will break*

Step 3: Make the mustard dipping sauce

3 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Coleman’s Mustard (found in the spice aisle of the grocery store)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil

To make the dipping sauce, blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour sauce into small bowl and serve with chicken and steamed rice.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Healthy Sleep Habits

He's at it again...this time, there's no stopping him!! Remember that one time O decided to climb out of his crib and strategically landed on a pile of stuffed animals? And then my dad came over and drilled new holes into the crib to lower the mattress as far as it would go? Well, he no longer needs those animals to cushion his fall. Because...he has completely mastered the art of escaping...in a matter of seconds. I kid you not. I place the child in his crib, turn around to reach for the doorknob, and he is right behind me. Before my almost 30-year-old brain registers that he is out of bed, Big O is off and running.

I quickly run through my options. I could put him in a big kid bed, so at least he won't hurt himself while climbing out. But I just don't think he's mentally ready to understand the concept of staying in bed if he's not enclosed. I could let him sleep in our bed, with us. But I don't want to create a habit that will be difficult to break. Like my favorite saying goes, "Start as you mean to go on". Hmmm...now what?? I know!! I'll refer to one of my sleeping bibles, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby. This book helped me so much when O was born so there's bound to be some good advice in it for me now. Lo and behold, there was a section in it titled the "Jack-in-the-Box Syndrome"! My god, it was as if it was written just for me!!

"It's quite natural for two-and three-year-olds to climb out of the crib to check out the interesting things they think their parents are up to. Or maybe they just want to watch the late, late movie, or have a bite to eat. Of course, what they like to do most is to come visit with their parents and/or get into their bed. This not only disrupts their parents' sleep, but it also harms the child."

So what is the solution?

"Tell him that when he gets out of bed, you are going to put him back to bed and you are not going to talk to him or look at his face while you are doing so. Let's call this "silent return to sleep." Silence when you take your baby back to bed is important, because if you are sweet or stern while trying to explain why everyone needs sleep, the verbal attention will reinforce your child's desire to get out of bed to get more attention. Attending to a problem will cause the problem to occur more often. Be silent and unemotional; appear disinterested or mechanical. No more night entertainment. "

The key is being consistent. Every time he climbs out, you put him back in, even if you have to do it 50 times a night. In the morning, you shower him with praise and affection and perhaps offer him a favorite food or outing. I tried this at every nap and at bedtime and within 2 days, he was back to being the sleeping angel I knew he could be. He still cries and whines when he goes down, but at least he isn't escaping anymore! There is just no rest for the wicked!