Friday, February 19, 2010

Sugar Cookie Baking

We made sugar cookies as one of day play times back in January.  I was trying to shoot some pictures for my photography class.
I normally hate the gold color of our stove, but in these pictures with Helen's blonde hair, her ivory shirt, the cream color of the cookies it just all seemed to fit.

I love how the texture of the flour sticks out in this one.

Helen moved on me, and I forgot to change my exposure.
But the picture turned out kinda dramatic with the contrast so I liked it.
Productive day here I come!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

The Chinese classes and Chinese department put on a celebration up on class this past week.  Jake's Chinese class gave an intro to the Chinese New Year and then sang a song at the end.  I loved watching Jake perform.  He is so animated.  Helen loved the show too.  It took everything to keep her off the stage when they would ask volunteers to come up on stage.

Jake saying his part of the origin of the Chinese New Year.

The ribbon dance.  Helen enjoyed this one a lot.

Norah probably wondering what was going on.

Jake and Helen watching the show.

Helen and Norah playing.

Jake's class during the last song.

Go Jake!

Helen going on stage at the very end to give Daddy a hug.

This weekend we are up at Jake's parent's cabin.
Since I will not be available to post,
I am scheduling this post to happen at the moment it turns
midnight on the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Salt Dough Revisited

So we made salt dough again (minus the cinnamon & spices).  We cut hearts out of the dough and baked them.

Another day we painted them and hung them as Valentine's decorations.

We also made rice krispie treats one day and gave them to Helen's friends and their families.  We only have a couple left to deliver before we head out of town today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Cupcake likes Sweet Potatoes

Miss Norah loves her food, but when I tried sweet potatoes with her she found a new absolute love.  The first time she would start to cry if I gave her a bite of rice cereal in between sweet potatoes.  I like to imagine she is like Julia Child when tasting something fantastic.  Like she's died and gone to heaven.  (Speaking of fantastic, we went to Cafe Sabor and had their Chino Latino egg rolls last night.  They were delicious!)

Back to Norah.  Here she is the other night during her sweet potato dinner.  This was the second or third time she'd had 'em.  The lens I had on my camera at the time couldn't zoom out, so the part you can't see is her arms flapping everywhere.


I went to a book outlet at the south of town this past Monday.  Wow, I could have spent hours in there sifting through books.  They are $1 for paperback, $2 for hardback, or $7 for as many as you can get in a grocery sack.  Most of them are used, but I found some that were very slightly used and new.  Classic Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit.  Helen also found a dolly. (They said that sometimes they get random dolls and stuffed animals in their shipments of books.)  So I got all of this into a sack for $7 + tax.  I probably could have gotten more in and I definitely could have spent more time, but both girls had had their limit and wanted to go eat lunch.

And just for fun, here is Helen the same day playing Ring-Around-A-Rosey.  Yes, those are whiskers she has from Sunday at Papa & Nana's house when she dressed up as a lion.  The stripes & plaid together?  That's what she thinks looks great.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Where's Daddy?

A conversation with Helen tonight went like this:

Me:  "Helen do you know where Daddy is?"
Helen:  "He's in the bathroom.  He's taking the tiny, baby stripes off his chin."
Me: "He's shaving?"
Helen: "Ya."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Take a Look

Here are some more of my blog updates that I have done off and on all day during naps.  Ya, very little housework getting done today.

And I updated the Lil' Tikes Menu by splitting it into Lil' Tike Play Area and Kid's Menu.

Blankey Playing & Helping Your Guy
What Santa brought
Bouquet Box
When life gives you Limes...
Lovin' the Co-op
Only One Month Left
Meat & Cheese Sandwiches
Salt Drip Paintings
Okay, dumb mistake
Photography Class - Last Assignment
Blueberry Pancakes
Easy Pizza Stick Lunch
I did it!
A Great Snack
Scrambled Eggs & Toast
Motion Photography Class Assignment
We've just been playing
Just Because
Photography Class - First Assignment

I have one more post to finish up, but it is late and I don't feel like getting recipe out and typing it now.  It will have to wait until tomorrow.

Blankey Playing & Helping Your Guy

Earlier this week I captured some photos of Helen playing with Norah.  Norah will learn at a very young age that every day we must have blankey playtime.  At least once a day.  Most days it will be all day.  You play simply by getting under a blankey and don't sit still.  Then get out.  Repeat all steps for as many times as you can - usually about 100.

Norah will like it better when she learns to move the blanket off her face, or when Helen finally understands when I say, "Don't put the blankey on Norah's face."  But I am glad Norah is patient for now and will play whatever flies Helen's kite for the day.  I am glad Helen is creative and always includes Norah in her play.
I love you two sweet girls!

Other day we were playing Candyland - Helen's new favorite game.  It was my turn and I landed on a licorice spot so I lost a turn.  Really, I was grateful for this as Norah was fussing.  I was more than happy to let Helen have two turns in a row.  Beats trying to tell her it isn't her turn.  Told her to draw again because my guy was stuck in the licorice.  She drew a second card and started to move my guy.  I told her it was her turn and to move her gingerbread guy.

She almost started to cry, but simply looked at me and said as tenderly as she could,
"No.  I need help your guy with my turn. He's stuck."

Glad you have my back, SugarWugar.

What Santa brought

Here is Helen & Norah saying goodbye to the futon.  This was obviously taken before the college boys came and picked it up.  Before Helen bawled because it left right before her eyes.  But we survived until Christmas, when Santa, in all his magic, pulled a whole couch out of his bag.  It is a beaut.  I love it.  No more (well, less bachelor-style living)!  Yippee.  It is so comfortable, it doesn't squeak, it's supportive, and no subwoofer needed.  And you when you come to visit, you don't have rush to nab the rocking chair and avoid the futon.

Thanks, Santa. (wink, wink).

And here's what Santa dropped off for Jake a few weeks early so he could play with it the whole school break.

Up in the air.

Jake flying his toy.
Sorry about the dark pictures.  I was losing light fast.

Bouquet Box

Here's how to make (or how I antiqued and reassembled a display box).  If you are trying this, make sure you read the whole thing, because I found a faster way towards the end.

I bought a shadow box at Hobby Lobby.  I wish I had taken a picture of it's original state.  It had a rusty orange canvas backing, but the frame was exactly what I was looking for to display some dried flowers.

I opened it up, tore off the orange material, and bought some white satin similar to my wedding dress.  Problem was the satin was stark white, the frame was not.  I wanted it to look antique, but also keep it's white properties.

When I took the box to my professional florist to see if the box would work for the arrangement I wanted, I also took advantage of an used herbal tea bag compliments of Jake.

I started off by dabbing tea on the material with cotton balls, hoping it would give some visual texture.

Then I microwaved it in a bag to set the stain.

Then I tried ironing it.  That is when the steam from the iron pushed tea circles out so it looked like someone spilled tea on it, not just antiqued.

So scratch all above steps.

I started over and just washed the whole thing in tea so it was all the same color.  And then rinsed it out.

Let it dry completely.

Then ironed it.
Here is what it looked like compared with a piece of the original stark satin.

Here is the box ready for the florist:

I then turned it over to the florist, my dad, to put flowers from my wedding bouquet in it.  Yes, flowers from my actual bouquet.  They have been hanging in various closets at my parents house for almost 5 years.  My mom has been begging me for almost as long to figure out what I was going to do with it so it wouldn't be in her closet anymore.
Here is what my dad came up with.  It is exactly what I envisioned.  I love it.  Thanks, Dad.

Speaking of flowers & weddings and such.  As I was going through the calendar, I was trying to figure out what I did in July last year.  Figured it out.  I was helping Kelsey plan her wedding.  I was her florist for that.  If you'd like to see the flower arrangements & bouquets I made go to her wedding & reception pictures.


Leaving the house for Helen means looking her best and being prepared for any movie scout that may be out there searching for a new Hollywood star.

Take for instance last week as we got ready to go to our tax appointment.  She needed to get ready.  This is her ensemble:

What you can't see is her flashy, sparkle, gold snow boots.  She wears those wherever she goes.

When life gives you limes...

When life gives you lemons you make lemonade, right?  We love lemonade in our house, but we put a new twist on the old saying and turned it into:

When life gives you limes, you make lime curd.  It is delish.
(note:  the toddler activity part is at the bottom of the post)

Jake and I love Alton Brown & his Good Eats show.  We try to channel him.  Every time we cook something new we look up to see if Alton has a recipe or tips on that particular item.

A few months ago we made his lemon curd from an episode about eggs on Good Eats.  You can watch "The  Egg Files" part 2 episode here.  We've made this lemon curd a few times and love it.  But Alton mentions you can use other citrus fruit and Jake has been dying to try lime.

At the end of January we gave it a shot.  I needed to finish a photo assignment for my class so I took a ton of pictures.  Lime curd is delish and if you have ever needed a new dessert that is easy give it a try.


As Alton would say, The Software

Sugar, eggs, lime juice, & lime zest

Jake mixing it up before it goes to the heat.

Testing to see if it is ready for the butter.

Scrapping ever last bit out of the bowl.

Helen having what was probably her 20th lick.

The finished product on some cream bread.
Jake & I both like it just as much or more than lemon curd.
(store-bought this time, I like making my own pound cake for it better).

So in another realm of our lives we have what I sometimes classify as limes or lemons.  Helen is struggling with being 2 and I am struggling with her being 2 as well.  Please don't let the 3's be as traumatic.  It is not uncommon for one or both of us to be in tears at sometime of the day.  I have institued a couple of things to help me turn this hard time into lemonade and lime curd, if you will.

1.  We have all but abolished movies.  Before I got pregnant with Norah, Helen would only watch maybe 15 minutes of a movie or TV.  She just didn't care for it.  But when I couldn't do anything but giver her crackers & a movie, and puke in the toilet, she became addicted to the screen.  And it had just gotten worse in the year since.  I have noticed her whining, her fits, and general bad days are all connected with how much TV she sees in a day.  So I have cut out all movies except one on Saturdays.  The first day was hard, but since then she hasn't even ask to watch something.  And her overall mood has improved.  She still has her moments, but for the most part of the day she is a lot more cooperative and happy.  That being said, she has to have something to do other than play with her regular toys everyday.  So on to #2.

2.  I am trying to create something new for her to do at least once a week.  To encourage me to do this and to help my friends who I know would love some toddler time activities, I am going to blog about our activities.  Hopefully this gives you ideas on what to do with your kids.  If you have any great ideas let me know of them in the comment section.  You can click on the link in the side bar to see only the posts about toddler activities.  I am calling it "Lil' Tike Play Area".  I also have "Kids Menu" about simple toddler foods I make for Helen.

We love Helen to bits.  She is our Sugar, but that isn't making growing up easy for her or us.  I am trying my hardest to put her and Norah as the center of my attention so they can thrive.  I hope this new approach helps.


This week's toddler activity was invented by trying to kill to birds with one stone.  I was really, I mean really, behind on folding laundry.  But I knew there was no way on earth it was going to get done if I needed to entertain Helen.  So I created a new game called "clothesline".  Helen loved it.

It's simple enough.
Hang some yarn from one stable object to another (in my case I used a filing cabinet handle to a door handle).  If it is a long distance (as was needed for my mountain of laundry) loop the yarn around a few chairs in the middle.

I pulled out my clothespins and told Helen to hang the laundry to "dry"  She loved playing with the clothespins.  I told her she could only hang laundry from a certain basket (the unfolded stuff).  As items became "dry" I took them off and folded them creating new room for her to hang more up.

And we both got the laundry done!  Wahoo!

Lovin' the Co-op!

Yep, now that the holidays are over, and I am in town more, I have once again hopped on the co-op bandwagon.  It's great!  And it gets even better.  It has been so popular in Logan that the Hyrum site is now every week.  Yippee!  That means I can get it every 2 weeks like normal, every week if needed, or I can wait an extra week if I feel we haven't used up all that we need to.  It also means that the shares go fast.  Here is my loot from the Jan 16th basket that we got.

1 spaghetti squash
5 lbs potatoes
1 head lettuce
1lb strawberries
4 orange bell peppers
3 mangoes (we made mango gelato with 'em)
3 lbs pears
4 tomatoes (I gave 2 of mine away)
4 red onion
6 apples
8 tangelos
6 bananas
1 head broccoli

all for $15.00!

+ extra $ for the breads you see in the left-hand corner.
They were orange & apple spice dessert loaves.
We liked the orange one better, but are going to try and make it ourselves.
Anyone have a good recipe for orange bread?

Mission Organize Apartment