Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Treats-part II

A few years ago, we purchased a Vitamix, a super duper handy dandy blender that can crush concrete - ya know, if that's what you're into. I loaned it out to a friend because it had been a while since we had used it and they were thinking of getting one also. They love making fruit smoothies, so when we got it back, I decided to pick up some bags of frozen fruit and a few other choice ingredients so we could enjoy our own concoctions.

In college, I used to get Metro's famous blueberry, banana, strawberry smoothie. For years after they closed I wanted to figure out how to make them for myself. I think there's been enough time that I don't recall *exactly* how they taste {at least not the way Marshall from How I Met Your Mother remembered exactly the way that missing burger joint's burgers tasted}. This works out because I have come up with something that comes awfully close to what I loved. If you're like me, you'll appreciate this haphazard approach to cooking/baking/experimenting.

So, you'll need your blender ready to go and go ahead and dump in the following:

1-2 cups whole milk {can substitute water}
one whole banana in two pieces

1/4-1/3 cup of frozen blueberries

2 TBLS honey

**BLEND** lowest setting, gradually going up to the highest setting until thoroughly blended, then turn it off.

1 cup of frozen strawberries 1 cup of frozen papaya, mango and pineapple

**BLEND** lowest setting again, moving speed up gradually and then let it sit on high for 45 sec.-1 minute.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer treats - part I

I found this at the store today and thought I would share how it turned out!

One tip I saw in an episode of Unwrapped that I'll share is to put the stick in the banana *BEFORE* you peel the skin. This will help keep the banana from breaking. What's nice about this treat is you don't have to worry about drips, so it's the perfect summer snack!

{the kids enjoy them as we watch Bedtime Stories}

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lunch with an old friend

{at The Cheesecake Factory}

A couple of months ago, I had lunch with Holly, a childhood friend who came through town on business. Holly and I have been friends since 8th grade. I think I've known Chris just as long. He just finished up his MBA and will be taking a sabbatical of sorts for the next six weeks. I've always been bad at calling friends up and going out to lunch, so I thought it would be fun to take advantage of grabbing some lunch before he leaves next week.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

18 months - just under the wire!

{this is about all you get with this guy - a few quick shots and he's ready to look for trouble}

Tomorrow Drew will be 19 months, so I'm using today to post his 18 month pictures. I thought having him sit/stand on the coffee table for these pictures was completely appropriate given that he is always on the go and will climb anything.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Marble Madness - the changes

A few months ago, I blogged about our current reward system. If you missed that entry, you can click here to read through it and adopt it for your family.

Well, after talking to a few friends recently and cleaning out a drawer, we have made some modifications and additions. The kids are now able to "pool" their marbles together to enjoy some of their purchases.

On Saturday, I was cleaning out a drawer and came across this book of neat little things you can do for your kids. They came in the form of note card sized rewards and I thought we will make this our Mystery Jar, available for the marble purchase of {TBD - to be determined; maybe 20 marbles}. The kids know the various cards, but won't be able to pick, but rather will get to choose blindly and enjoy whatever card they draw.

I should mention/ask if you have any ideas, suggestions of your own that you'd like to share, please feel free to do so. I'm always up for new ideas!

Here are pictures of the cards we'll be putting in our Mystery Jar -

Saturday, June 20, 2009 - let's chat!

So, I found this cool little gadget on another blog and thought I'd give it a whirl! Check the box to the right of the posts and leave your name/website/message and let's chat it up!

Tell me what you're up to today. Chores, errands, trips, anything you've got going on!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Carpet to concrete - who knew?

When we {I} decided we wanted to remove the carpet, we {I} wanted to go with hardwood floors. We had the guy come out and give an estimate - two years ago. I really wanted to do dark, matte/semi gloss finish and 4-5 inch width hardwood planks vs. the standard 1.5 - 2 inch boards that are typically used.

In few words: I just wanted something different.

As we got more and more motivated to finish the project, we realized that simply pulling up the carpet and staining the concrete underneath might be our best bang for the buck {i.e. best results with the least amount of money given our other options}. Neil sees this finish in higher end homes.

I'll be honest. I had my doubts. Initially. But the more we researched the project, the more I came to the conclusion that this was the route we should take.

And the results were exactly what I was hoping for.

{the start of the project - prepping the floor}
{the first layer of stain}
{first layer of stain, three more to go!}{literally watching paint dry}
{the waiting game - the sealant dries}

{the finished product!}
{It looks great and we can't wait to use it...or just walk on it.}

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Make up and construction: the making of an interior designer...

I think my kids must be feeling the pressure of finding their talents and cultivating them into marketable skills at an early age.

I say this because how else can I explain my four year old taking her artwork and nailing them to the walls of our bathroom during what should have been her afternoon nap?

That'll teach me to take away her cartoon time during nap time, I suppose.

Usually, I put her down for a nap at the same time as Drew so the house is "less loud" for a couple of hours. In order to placate her, normally I put on some cartoons in my room. Except I changed that on Tuesday.

Neil and I had put up a few things in our bathroom and left the tools out. She decided she would take a project she was working on {and housed in my room at the time} and nail them up all over the bathroom walls. I still don't know how she managed to do this without our hearing it because we were all in the living room and didn't hear anything out of the ordinary.
{the tools - though, I'm not sure what the spoon had to do with anything...}{look at how beautiful that nail went in!!}
And get this. She decided to put on big sis' makeup too - I guess she decided she must look pretty while 1) being naughty and 2) being resourceful.

She did a good job with both. And she did get a much deserved scolding, but I had to grab the camera and showcase what she did. It's definitely a story worth telling as she gets older.
{this was next to my sink}

What impressed me most is that she managed to do a better job than some grown men. I don't know how she did it either. It's not like she stands over us the five minutes it takes us to nail various things around the house. And how did she manage to hold the paper in place along with the nail...while hammering?
{she even climbed up over the bathtub to nail more artwork!}

Far be it for me to hold back praise where it's due {or so Rachel from Anne of Green Gables says}, but it'll be tucked away in this blog entry where she can read about it years from now.

**My only regret is that I didn't take a picture of her wearing Ashley's makeup. She actually did a good job with that too.**

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sally Manket

{best buds}

In our house, the kids have always been attached to something since they were infants. Stuffed animals, blankets, thumbs, pacifiers, etc.

Getting older doesn't necessarily mean they stop loving their "loveys". Without embarrassing my older kids, I'll just go straight for the four year old who loves her pink blanket.

Well loved would be the understatement of this short century.

Another child {who will remain nameless} loves his/her blanket just as much and by the time he/she was four the blanket was in MUCH BETTER condition than this raggedy taggedy gypsy pink blanket.

Paige is rarely without her blanket. Even if she drags her blanket down the stairs in the morning and leaves "her" on the chair and goes on to play with other things, she can tell you later exactly where to find "her". And she's always right.

Why do I refer to the blanket as a "her"? Well, lately she's been calling her Sally. And for a while when she was younger and learning to sound out the word, blanket, she would call it her pink "mankie" or pink "manket". So, we combined the two and we call her Sally Manket now.

Sally is the perfect companion for the thumb in the mouth during nap or bedtime. She doesn't even mind that she's smelly or has a huge couple of rips in her. Nope. She doesn't complain at all. She even likes being draped over Paige's head when she wants to pretend to be the Blessed Mother, Mary.

{Sally brings out many faces in Paige - here, the ugly face pops out!}
{and of course, a beautiful girl is transformed into Mary}

Sunday, June 14, 2009

P90X bring it? The diet has been b'rought'n...

Today {Sunday} Neil started phase three of P90X - classic doubles.

Let me tell ya - the change in diet is enough to have you saying "whole wheat" in your sleep for days. I really want Neil to succeed so I've been making {many times begrudgingly - I'm working on it!} sacrifices to see that he gets the time he needs to do his workouts. Extended kid duty during the witching hour - and not a single one of you mommas reading this know what I'm talking about, do you? Are you rolling your eyes too?

You know what I'm talking about. It starts around three or so in the afternoon and lasts until, well, the last kid goes to sleep. Not that all days are like this, but usually the afternoon time is when I am hanging onto my last shred of sanity. Except, instead of breathing a HUGE-O sigh of relief hearing the key in the lock and knowing Neil is home, I have been bracing myself for "round two", formerly known "now we get to share the kiddo responsibilities" time of day.

I have a sister-in-law who did this program with her husband. At the same time. Six days a week. She has four kids too. And I affectionately have to ask,

"How the hell did they make it work?"

My kids. The house would be - how does the phrase go? - tore up from the floor up? Yeah. They could take this house down in record time.

Fuh reals.

But I support Neil's desire to be healthy and fit and seriously? Who doesn't like looking through the closet knowing you can pick what you like vs. what's clean and fits {and sometimes both if you're lucky!!}?

So, has it been worth it? Absolutely. I can't lie and say it hasn't been a tough transition giving him the time he needs to work out, but with doubles it's almost literally been twice as difficult. I mean, I have to hear that alarm go off at 5 a.m. {and let me tell ya, that's tough ::snort::} and he goes off to do his first of essentially three workouts for the day. An hour of cardio in the morning. An hour of whatever's on the agenda for the day in the evening followed by an additional 15 minutes of Ab Ripper X every other day.

The final results of day 90 will occur in roughly a month from now. I am stoked to see how far he's come when we do the final pictures, though I am convinced this is a permanent staple to our household schedule. And that's fine with me. A one time fee vs. the gym. Being at home vs. leaving the house to go to the gym.

All I can say is I'm looking forward to the end...and the beginning.

Temporarily anti-technology - exceptin' maybe Facebook ::blush::

Some of you may have noticed that lately I've been on a project kick, particularly if you're "hip" with my Facebook status updates - that may be one of the last outlets I'm pursuing these days.

And some of you may be annoyed at my lack of communication too.

If you call me, you will likely get my voice mail. Scratch that. You
will get my voice mail. And I probably won't call back. ::sheepish grin/grimace::

If you e-mail me, I will likely respond to you quickly, but then again it may be a day or two before I get back to you. E-mail is a quirky thing with me. Either I get it and respond right away like the diligent little worker bee that I like to be or I'll think that I'll get to it later and later then becomes days later, oftentimes to my chagrin.

I don't like being thought of as lazy, unmotivated or uncaring. But permit me to explain.

You see, I'm an Aries. I start MANY projects - most of which I
will finish...eventually - or so I reassure myself. My intention is always to finish, yet my stamina/mood tends to fizzle out long before the desire. I've never thought of an "ideas" person to be an insult, but lately - for me - it really is. I have seriously some of the most clever ideas, but lack the manpower or resources to carry most of them out. However, I am in the middle of tackling three/four huge projects this summer. And I am bound and determined to see all of them completed.

The first three were my first projects and are temporarily on the back burner {well, in bits anyway}. My fourth project is the one that I'm currently consumed with. I have been a follower of Fly Lady for almost seven years. And the logic behind Flying is to take it in baby steps.

I know. Weird, huh? You're flying, but you're taking baby steps.

Anyhoodileedoodle. So, I've decided I am temporarily fine with messes and clutter as long as I have a plan to get rid of it eventually. And so, that is what has happened in my house. We {translation: me} have been de-cluttering and getting rid of junk and crud that I've literally been avoiding for a while. And I decided upon seeing my friend, Audrey's, uber organized garage that I would go home and tackle that proverbial "under the bed" part of our house.

{yeah, I wish my garage would look this nice...we'll see}

You know what I'm talking about. Mom would ask you to clean up your room and you would "magically" have it all done in like, oh, ten minutes tops. Why? Because we shoved everything into the closets and under the bed. And you don't happen to think Mom wasn't onto our game, do you?

My whole goal was I wanted to be one of "those" people - the ones who leave their garage doors open just because they can. It's kind of a neatness 'keeping up with the Joneses' thing. I want that. Well, and I really am just so lazy that I really only want my house to take five minutes at most per room to clean up.

You want to stop by for some sugar or have some coffee? GREAT! Give me like 20 minutes. That's my goal, folks. And I'm sure I can attain it.

Three weeks later and I have made some serious headway in the garage. I am taking it in bits. I stay out there as long as I can and put Pandora on and jam out while I throw crap away or into the car to go to the local thrift store. When I get bored or hit a wall, I leave and don't sweat it. I've run into a caffuffle a couple of times when I found out I can't just drop paint cans off at any old place or when we had a freak tornado/rain/hailstorm the other night and literally I saw the fruits of my labor in action when we were able to park the Volvo in the garage.

And can I just admit I was pretty darn proud of myself? Granted, I wasn't thrilled at all the excess crap shoved against the one side of the garage, but overall I was impressed with all my hard work.

The projects spread out from the garage and into/around the house as well. The storage shed was organized in 30 minutes. Seriously? Why did we wait this long to do this?? But. It's done. And I'm glad.

I would say I'm one of those people who enjoys the idea of being organized, would like to do it for a while if someone started it for me, but don't like the idea of getting that ball rolling. And prior to three weeks ago I would have said I had more important things to Facebook, or post on ELW (sorry girls that I've ditched ya too!) or post on BBC or e-mail more frequently or answer my phone, but the reality is that I am getting a LOT of much needed things done around here.

Having been a trailblazer of sorts in the internet world, the past 15 years online have been filled when I was really into my online community and other times when I have dropped off for a while.

I will be back soon, though. One of my projects involves quite a bit of online research and I may be recruiting some of you to help me with my biggest {and dare I say most exciting - to me} venture yet.

If you are having a difficult time reaching me, the two best ways to reach me these days are via text or Facebook. Talking without talking. That's me these days.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

When worlds collide - it ain't all bad!

As a retired Seinfeld fan, there are times even now when I recall certain episodes. The one where George didn't want his girlfriend to meet his friends is a great one. He didn't want independent George and relationship George to meet. It would cause the destruction of independent George.

I thought about this episode when friends got together on Saturday evening. We've met up before. Usually it takes a visit from El Paso to get everyone together, but hey it *does* happen. Neil and I have been married long enough that I only think about the George scenario in jest because it's not even close to the kind of relationship we have. Neil has become part of "the group" and fits in quite nicely.

Emma, Melissa (who couldn't make it this go 'round), and Kat and I have been friends since that first summer at UT. They have been like the sisters I never had growing up and I know that despite all my shortcomings, they love me no matter what. They are probably the truest friends I've ever had. They were in my wedding for that reason. As we continued through college, we all made other friends, but still remained close. Their friends became our friends and even though time passes between visits and phone calls, we have the luxury of knowing we can pick up the phone and call and there is no awkward silence, wondering who is on the other end. It's just like old times. Our freshman year we used to go to the Phi Kappa Theta frat parties and started meeting new friends. My missing year in college is when Emma joined a sorority {Sigma Lambda Gamma}, the local chapter founded by our friend, Cynthia. Her then boyfriend, Jesse (now her husband), also founded the new fraternity chapter, Sigma Lambda Beta. When I came back, I had a bunch of new friends (paid for, I jest, by Emma's membership). To this day we still chat via Facebook and even meet up for breakfast or pedicures.

Saturday we got to visit with my good buddy, Emma and her family who came through town for a family wedding and though it was a short visit, it was a lot of fun. I took some pictures and had Neil take some of us because you never know when the next visit will be, ya know? Our families have come a long way and our kids play wonderfully with each other.

Friends are everything. You don't have much say in who your family is but you can pick your friends and there isn't a single thing I'd change about mine. They're like handpicked family.

Now, if we could just get Jesse to come next time and bust out with some dance moves a la the old school frat parties it would complete the visit!!

{HOOK 'EM!!Dio & Emma - I've known Emma for 15 years! I met Dio when
I got back to college - Emma and Cindy were roommates and she and Dio were dating at the time}

{Emma says something gross I can't remember and lucky for her because I'd totally tell!}

{Kat and Neil - Dio thought it would add some spice to the party so he brought out his acoustic guitar
and asked Neil to play for us. Kat and Neil share a birthday, two years apart.}

{Not the greatest of photos, I include it because it's one of the few with Sal, Emma's husband (striped shirt), in it. JT - on the left - and Dio are chatting it doubt about something guy like since there are no girls to be found. ;-) }
{Kat and her boyfriend, Kirk. She has a bad habit of wearing her shades
on her head once the sun goes down too...just like me.}

{Kat and Emma - I know she's going to kill me for posting this one, but I LOVE it!}{Ok, the real deal...}

{Paige and Emma's mini me, Isabella. Paige was sold on her being her best friend when all I had to do
was tell her her name. Paige's best friend at preschool was Isabella too.}

{Yup, we let them play in the backyard by themselves in the dark.
They practically had to be peeled off the hammock they had so much fun!}

{A real friend tells you when you have strawberry seeds in your teeth.}

{Neil got a little camera happy - possibly because he knows my policy of having friends
who are beautiful both inside and out - he took advantage of photographing such stunning beauty.}
{Are we done yet??}

{Some of the kids - those who would stand still long enough. Top left, Emmanuel - Emma and Sal's oldest and also Paige's age; middle, Mia - Cindy and Dio's oldest; Paige; Bella doing cutsey things with her hands and little JT, JT's middle kiddo.}

{The guys sitting around talking about...uh, let's say real estate. Or Mexican comedians. Again.}
{The kids all played so nicely together. Not a single meltdown!}

{Cindy, Cynthia - who got there a little late and so we posed again so everyone could be included - me, Kat, and Emma}