Thursday, January 28, 2010

The napkin dress.

As soon as I saw these cute polka dot napkins on sale at World Market last fall, I knew I wanted to make them into a dress for Skylar. I've seen pillowcase and bandana dresses for sale on Etsy, and they looked easy to make. All you need are two napkins or bandanas, some ribbon, and the ability to sew four straight lines. Actually, mine weren't even straight. Best of all, cost for supplies was $5, and you could do it for even cheaper.
As soon as it gets warm enough, we'll ditch the leggings and onsie and wear it as a sundress. When she outgrows it, it can be worn as a shirt.
I'm kind of a wing-it person, but if you like to have specific instructions, there's a great step by step tutorial here. You certainly don't have to use a pre-cut square, although it's convenient. If you have older/taller kids, just use fabric and hem the bottom. To give you an idea of how long they are, Skylar is 33 1/2 inches tall.
I'm going to try a different kind of bandana dress next, so stay tuned for part two!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Come on baby Fox.

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new niece or nephew, due any second now (and by any second I mean 5 days ago). Clearly he/she is quite comfy and in no hurry to vacate the womb. My parents got to Hawaii yesterday to meet the little no-show and instead they are killing time in tropical paradise until baby Foxworth emerges, which I'm sure is extremely difficult what with the sunshine, ocean, luau's and all. Skylar can't wait to have a cousin. I asked her today if she was excited and even though she had no idea what I was saying, she nodded yes and really seemed to mean it.

We had a little dinner party last weekend to get to know some of Micah's classmates, and of course it turned into a pretty large dinner party (the more the merrier!). One of the couples brought over a box of Godiva truffles and I put them on the table with dessert hoping they would get eaten, and they didn't. Not a single one. Fortunately, eating less chocolate was NOT one of my New Year's goals, so I have been happily munching away and canceling out all of my gym time with each bite I take. And it is soooo worth it.

I even took a picture of them to show what you are missing (and because apparently I have nothing better to do except take pictures of chocolate and wait for the phone to ring telling me my sister is in labor).


If you come visit I'll share them with you.....but you better get here quickly.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vinaigrette.

I don't really care for New Year's resolutions...mostly because I'm just setting myself up for failure. But there is something about a new year that makes me want to improve myself.

My first goal was to get a Rolodex to better keep up with addresses. It's now sitting on the desk with all of the addresses from everyone who sent us a christmas card this year safely filed away. All previous addresses are in my very outdated address book in a box in the garage, on tiny peices of paper scattered across the country, or stuffed in various places--in other words, completely lost. But it's a start, and I shan't be losing your address anymore.

My second goal was to get in better shape (along with everyone else and their mom). I've been frustrated because my same old routine just hasn't been cutting it since Skylar came along. So we joined a Gold's gym down the road and I've started doing all kinds of fun classes. I absolutely LOVE pilates and I find myself really excited to go. I also love BodyPump where I am forced to do all sorts of horrible things that I would otherwise avoid like abs and push-ups. This morning I spent a horrifying hour in a step class--one of the longest of my life--where I flapped like a penguin in the back row while everyone else danced like gazelles around me as the 90 pound german instructor shouted the names of elaborate step routines. But after two weeks, I feel better all ready and my new body should be arriving in the next 7-10 business days.

My third goal was to eat more fruits and vegetables. When I worked it was easy because I packed a salad every day and lots of healthy snacks, but now I just don't feel like putting the effort into making myself anything for breakfast or lunch so I grab something fast. So far this goal is failing miserably since I've only made a salad for lunch one day this week and have eaten maybe 10 blueberries, but I guess that's a start.

So I thought I'd post my favorite salad dressing recipe. Unlike my sister-in-law, Marge, who just whips up little vinaigrettes when she makes a salad, I just keep one homemade staple in the fridge. I started making my own about a year ago, and now I just can't go back to the bottled stuff, it tastes like flavored water.

Basic Italian Vinaigrette

1/2 cup vinegar (red wine, white wine or balsamic vinegar are good)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning (or any combination of oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, whatever you feel like)
2 pressed garlic cloves
1 Tbsp sugar


The tricky part is making sure you store it so that it doesn't leak all over your fridge. I use one of these handy salad dressing mixers that I got from a pampered chef party once (i always feel obligated to buy something). It turned out to be a good buy, because I really like it and we use it all the time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beach trip.


This past weekend we decided to take advantage of my parent's timeshare (thanks mom and dad!) and spend our 4 day weekend at Myrtle beach. The weather was perfect, and our condo was right on the ocean. Even better, my grandparents were able to join us. We've really enjoyed all the time we've been able to spend with Nana and Papa, and Skylar adores them. I'm blessed to have such "young" grandparents who are still active.....afterall, 80 is the new 50, right?

Some of the highlights of the weekend: watching Skylar chasing seagulls hoping to pet one, seeing Nana try a peice of sushi for the first time and almost choke trying to get it down (only her overwelming sense of propriety kept her from spitting it into her napkin since we were out in public), Papa accidentally slamming the car door on Micah's head (it doesn't sound funny, but it really was to everyone but Micah), and Micah and I getting a few child-free hours to hit the outlet malls. I also enjoyed hearing Nana refer to PF Changs as "Ching-Changs".

My camera charger was left in NY so I am without a camera (I KNOW! It's terrible, you don't even know all the would-be pictures that have only been captured in my mind...sigh), but we were able to get some shots with Micah's iphone, and I think it might actually take better pictures than my camera anyway.












Thursday, January 14, 2010

We have some big news!

Nope, Skylar isn't going to be a big sister.

BUT....she is going to move to Antartica with her parents, and by Antartica I mean upstate New York where the temperature in June is between 50-65 degrees. The playgrounds are INDOOR. Lord have mercy.

On the bright side, I won't have to worry about a tan in the summer and we'll only be 5 hours from my parents. I'm a little miffed that my chocolate mint cookies weren't enough to persuade Micah's competition into giving up Germany. That's what I get for trying out a new recipe--had I gone with the Peanut Butter Blossoms we would have had it.

In all seriousness though, we put NY as our second choice after Germany and above Ft. Bragg, so we did have some control over our fate (even if those were our only 3 choices) and ultimately we know this is where the Lord wants us.

It'll be fun to be 30 minutes from Canada, to go to Nigara Falls and explore New England. And there will be skiing. It's nice to know where we're headed and we're excited for our next adventure, cold though it may be:)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Little fashionista.

Skylar loves to dress up. She empties her drawers and then puts on whatever she can all by herself--usually hats, baby legs (worn on the arms) and a swim diaper slung over one arm like a purse. She usually asks me to help put on her bathing suit top and sometimes the bottoms over her pants. There's no style quite like toddler style........



I asked her about her upcoming spring collection and this is what she had to say:
video
In other news, we should know soon where we will be headed next--most likely Fort Bragg. After Micah's meeting with the branch manager today it isn't looking too good for us since someone in authority at Bragg specifically requested him. However, I'm about to go bake a batch of mint chocolate chip cookies in hopes that we can persuade one of Micah's classmates to give up his Germany slot. Shameless, I know. We may even include a drawing from Skylar that says "Ich liebe dich" and see if that does the trick. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Health food" we actually like.

We aren't super healthy around here (afterall, I am a chocoholic and we are eaters), but we do try to be healthier. I went through a brief stint where I bought all organic everything, and to be honest, a lot of it just didn't taste that good and wasn't even that much healthier. Skylar wouldn't eat her Annie's Organic Low Sodium Bunnies--even she knew they were fake goldfish--and it just stressed me out when she wasted them since they cost about 3 times more. At least with goldfish it's no big deal if she accidentally dumps the bag all over the floor.

So in the end I decided I'm willing to pay a little more for healthy or organic food, but only if it tastes as good as the alternative and makes my life easier. As a general rule I don't buy too many processed foods, so when I do buy them I try to go healthy. So here are a few of our family's favorite convenience foods that are tasty, a little better for us and well, convenient.

Morning Star veggie sausage. This is one of Skylar's favorite things in the world. Micah prefers the patties and makes them into egg mcmuffins.I don't like either of them because to me they taste exactly like sausage (I do love the black bean burgers though!). I have taste-tested these on both sides of the family, and if you like sausage, you will like them. A good source of protein at only 1.5 grams of fat per link.

Lesser Evil Veggie Krinkle Sticks. These are not to be confused with the veggie chips that are no better for you than potato chips. Not only do these taste way better than the original version, but 44 of them is a serving with just a few grams of fat. Great for when you just want junk food or something salty. They are so good that I would choose them over regular chips anyday--even Salt and Vinegar--and that is saying something.


Alexia Sweet Potato Julienne Fries. These suckers are yummy. Micah doesn't really care for sweet potatoes, and even he gobbled them up. They have no saturated fat, and at 6 grams per serving are about as fattening as homefries made with olive oil except that they taste better than any of my attempts at sweet potatoes fries and they are already sliced and ready to go. (As a bonus you get some vitamins in there too). I just toss them with a little seasoned salt and bake.

Agave Nectar. Awhile back we started sweetening with honey more than sugar, and in the last year it's been more agave nectar than honey. It's not as good for baking, but it has a lower glycemic index so it doesn't spike your blood sugar and has fewer calories per serving than honey and sugar, making it good for pretty much everything else. I drizzle a little bit over cottage cheese to get Skylar to eat it. Works like a charm.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy, Happy Birthday baby.........

Micah turned twenty-eight yesterday!  The day started out with breakfast in bed, a tradition that carried over from my family growing up. Micah loves his annual breakfast in bed, and now so does Skylar. I even made heart shaped pancakes (totally something Cheri would do).


Skylar was eager to help Micah unwrap a couple of birthday presents. He actually didn't get to unwrap anything yesterday thanks to his little helper.

Skylar picked out daddy's birthday cake at the store and got him some balloons. We forgot to get candles though.....so we stuck a great big one right in the middle. It took a couple of rounds of "Happy Birthday" before we could get to the end without Skylar blowing out the candle.



Happy birthday to a fantastic husband and father, we love you!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Three cheers for rice pudding!

Every winter at about this time I seem to get a hankering for rice pudding. (It's not even chocolate, which just goes to show I'm an equal opportunity dessert consumer). I think this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis for Rice Pudding with Vanilla Bean, Orange and Rum might be my favorite version. Not only is it delicious but it employs my favorite kitchen gadget: the microplane grater. And just look at all those yummy vanilla specks:

Ingredients:

5 cups whole milk (I use 4 cups skim to one cup whole and it's not as creamy but way healthier!)
2/3 cup Arborio rice or other short-grain white rice
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
(Microplane time! Did you get yours yet??)
Orange segments

Directions:
Combine the milk and rice in a heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean; add the bean. Bring the milk to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the rice is tender, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes. Mix in the sugar, rum, and orange peel. Discard the vanilla bean. Cook until the mixture thickens, 5 to10 minutes longer.
Spoon the rice pudding into bowls. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 5 hours. Serve with orange segments.


It's really yummy the original way, but just for the record the rum is totally unnecessary. Also, if you don't want to splurge on a vanilla bean, I've used a tsp of vanilla before and it was still good. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool before you dig in!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snow is still fun.

My three youngest siblings have spent the majority of their lives in the south and snow is a novelty to them. Since this was our family's first northern winter in many years, the snow is still fun, and we had a couple of good snow showers while we were there.

Skylar liked the snowman that Lauren and Bekah made:
Somebody gave it a ba-dunka-dunk complete with a crack and it wasn't me. No really, it wasn't. I know you don't believe that, but it's true.
Skylar liked the sled Noni got for the grandkid(s). (Baby Foxworth is due to make his/her grand debut in approximately 17 days give or take a few and I'm sure the adjustment outside the womb will be much easier knowing that this little speedster awaits them next winter).

When Noni got tired Aunt Bekah took over and Uncle Thomas started chasing the sled. Skylar almost died with excitement. I think she even wet her pants. Then again, when does she not wet her pants? (Bladder control is my new year's resolution for her this year. Can you make resolutions for other people? Well I did.)
What started out as too many adults watching Skylar ride around in circles soon turned into full blown combat............
Boys against girls of course. (And no, I don't know what Thomas was wearing).







Meanwhile Big Tom refereed from the porch....
...and Skylar got scared and cried because everyone was yelling and throwing things and "fighting". Even her beloved Aunt Nicole.
Nicole came over and reassured her and then she felt much better. They only got to spend a day together which made me really sad because Skylar clung to her and obviously missed her so much. I know she's confused that Aunt Nicole just disappeared from her life after spending so much time with her over the last year.
And just so you know, the girls totally beat the boys, no question. Then again there were only two boys. And one was on crutches. (Pictured here: Nicole, our cousin Lauren, Bekah and Josh's girlfriend Catherine--Margaret was wounded on the ground somewhere).

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