Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Zelda Turns 4!

Today is Zelda's 4th birthday. Last night, you would have thought the world was coming to an end by the way she cried over no longer being three and wanting to be my baby forever. But, today she awoke happy and excited to be the birthday girl.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday, Dec., 25, 2011

A Christmas Blessing

May Christ our infant savior give you the joy of the Bethlehem shepherds, the awe of the worshipping sages and the humility and love of the holy family. May you become as little children and the blessing of God our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be with you always.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Naughty or Nice?

From the mouths of babes:
"This is no time to be naughty," said nearly 4-year-old Zelda today. Then, "Only three more days until Christmas!"

Monday, December 5, 2011

Doubled Mistake

BIG note to self: Do NOT double a recipe unless it's tried and true and/or from a baker friend whom I trust. And, just because a special edition cookie publication has the name of Betty - as in Crocker - on it, doesn't make it perfect. Even less so once I substitute for dairy and white flour.

Tonight I'm going to 'Even Better - a gluten- and dairy-free cookie exchange' (thanks Nikki!). And, I kept looking at these glazed eggnog spritz cookies. They 'read' and looked yummy in the picture. Easy substitutions using Better Batter gluten-free flour and Spectrum shortening. I do it all the time. Since I would be bringing several dozen cookies to the exchange, I'd double the recipe so we'd have some for home. I could freeze them for Christmas.

Once I made the dough and tasted it, I knew I made the right choice of cookie. I figured if the dough was any indication of the taste of the cookies, I was going to rock this exchange. The dough was outstanding. Yes, I eat dough, even with raw eggs in it. (SShhhh. Don't tell Ron. Apparently, he never ate cookie dough growing up because of the eggs. Too bad for him.)

The first pan came out of the oven. The cookies looked beautiful. I let them cool for a minute and then went to move them from the pan to the rack. And, that's when I crumbled. I mean they crumbled. We both crumbled. They came out so crumbly as to be unpresentable. You basically have to most gently place one in the palm of your hand and then smack it into your mouth in one smooth move. Kind of like the communion wafer (these taste better, at least). If looking at the whole pan of cookies and collapsing inside wasn't enough, I couldn't help but acknowledge that I had a large mixing bowl of batter sitting on the table waiting to be spritzed from my cookie gun onto the baking pans. Ugh.

So, I proceeded to bake the entire double batch of dough. I changed the spritz shapes, hoping that might help. I even balled up enough cookies to fill a pan. I changed the temperature on the oven. Nothing worked.

When the last pan of cookies was in the oven, I decided to check online and see if a correction had been made to the recipe. A Google search turned up the recipe on the Betty Crocker web site. I read the reviews. Everyone else found the cookie crumbly too. So, at least I didn't have to wonder too long about whether my substitutions were the problem. Next time, I'll add another egg. And, I'll just bake one batch, to make sure that works.

When all is said and done, I have about 100 cookies on baking racks that are so delicate I'm not sure I can even move them to a container. And, I still need to put the glaze on them. Maybe I can completely coat them in the glaze to help keep them together. I can only hope.

As for the cookie exchange tonight, I have a back-up plan. Yesterday, I made a batch of chocolate walnut cookies that you roll into logs, freeze and then slice and bake when you need them. Obviously, I need them.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, 2011

My Christ, as he comes, deliver you from your guilt, anxiety and resentment. May Christ be your new beginning, your hope and salvation. And may the blessing of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God, Mother of us all be with you always.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Following in Grandma's Footsteps

I think I would have made my grandma LaSota proud this week. I feel like she's been here in the kitchen and around the house with me, checking on all the things I've been doing....such as canning a 1/2 bushel of beets with Gretchen (along with Jane who cooked them all for us!); canning 12 pints of sweet garlic dill slices; and making chicken broth from a chicken carcass. Next up is the actual chicken soup. And, later, when the girls go to sleep, I'm going to start on some knitting projects for Christmas.

Yep, I definitely took after my grandma LaSota. May she rest in peace.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Short and Sweet

Shutterfly photo books offer a wide range of artful designs and embellishments to choose from.

When Shutterfly recently sent me a coupon for a free 8x8 photo book just for being a good customer, I couldn't let it pass me by. So, I took a 38-page book I had created last Christmas as a gift to Zelda's grandparents of our China trip. I condensed it and hit the highlights for Zelda, intending this to be a book she can carry around and savor. (Since it's taken me until last week to finish her 'first year home' book and I have yet to complete her China trip book - though it's well under way! - I thought this would be a great treat and surprise for my little one.) It came today and we can't wait to give it to her tomorrow morning. 

The book also came with codes for a 10% off everything coupon plus 5 free greeting cards - for me and three friends. So, dear friends, if you're interested, be among the first to respond and I'll pass along the codes. They must be used by Nov. 17. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'm Roaring Again

I had another 'I am woman, hear me roar' moment today. Ron and I are in charge of the community well on our block. Earlier this summer, he showed me how to reset the pump when it goes out and stops providing water to our houses.

So, earlier today my neighbor called me on my cell just after I had dropped off Zelda for preschool.  My neighbor asked if I had water because they weren't getting any at her house. Since I wasn't home, I couldn't tell if my water was working, but, typically, if one house doesn't have water than neither do the other seven.  I told her I'd check the pump.

I zipped over to our street and parked near the pump, which is at the opposite end of the road from our house. I walked over to it and saw that the meter wasn't turning. So, I hoisted up the big, honkin' box that covers the actual pump unit. I pressed the two buttons to reset the pump and heard that lovely clicking sound that indicated it reset itself.

Lo and behold, the meter started running again, too. 
I rocked that problem today!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Zelda's first year home

I'm enjoying my girls' stamping weekend - stamping cards, watching movies and working on my Shutterfly photo albums. While I put a lot of time in on my 12x12 book of both trips to China, I'm thrilled to share the book I just completed. This is Zelda's first-year-home book. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fun Remembered via Shutterfly

In my effort to get chosen to host a Shutterfly photo book home party, I thought I'd share a Shutterfly album that I created last fall. I don't know if I just love the book, or if I just love the book because the content reminds me of how much I loved the trip. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Dirty Summer

We had a dirty summer. A lot. I don't mean that we played in the dirt or anything like that, though I think that did happen a time or two. I mean that the girls could have taken more baths and/or showers than I care to admit. We had plenty of nights when we were all too pooped out or were having too much fun together to want to stop and take a bath. And, we often used the excuse that we had swimming lessons or were going to the pool anyway the next day (after which we  bathed, thank you very much). I was even aided in my laziness to bathe by using a natural bug repellent that didn't require a shower every night. So much the better.

Now, I should say that my mom taught me better and probably would (will?) be skeeved out when she reads this (and be horrified that I'm admitting it). But, when all was said and done, we all lived. And, even though I got whiffs of the girls' smelly heads a time or two, they are no worse for wear. They survived being dirty.

Through all of these dirty days, not once did I regret not giving the girls a bath when they probably needed it. That is, until yesterday. Yes, after school had started and I had no swimming pool excuses to use. We came home late from visiting Nana and Grandpa on Sunday evening. And, when I normally would have given the girls a fast bath - at the very least - before bed, I didn't. I let it slide. Monday morning I told Annalee to put her hair in a little pony tail on top so that any dirtiness didn't show. Actually, she looked perfectly fine.

When she came home, though, her pony tail was out. And, frankly, her hair looked dirty. So, I asked her why she took her hair down. Drum roll please.... "The nurse did it. She was checking for head lice."

What? This came after Annalee had been home from school for at least an hour and I had already asked her about her day and what went on. Well, apparently I hadn't asked the right questions. It turns out that someone in Annalee's class was found to have head lice and so the nurse checked everyone in the class room.

I am happy to report that Annalee does NOT have head lice. Thankfully. She just had dirty hair the day the nurse needed to comb through it. That skeeves me out.

And, yes, I gave the girls their baths last night.

Friday, August 26, 2011

One Year to the Next

The end of our summer break came this week as Annalee started third grade. It wasn't just a new grade, but since we have leveled schools, she was going to a different school. She'll be there through fifth grade. Annalee was nervous the night before school and insisted we look online so she could find out what her teacher looked like. Thankfully, I found the teacher's classroom web site and we were able to read a little about her. The next morning, I was even more excited to meet Mrs. Madsen and find her very similar in personality to Annalee's first grade teacher, whom we both liked and enjoyed so much. So far, so good.

When Wednesday came, we rushed around taking pictures before driving over to school. A few years ago, I found a 'First Day' picture frame. I purchased two at the time, in complete preparation for Zelda's arrival. Annalee's been using her frame since kindergarten. On the first day of school each year, I've taken Annalee's picture and get prints made while she's in school. She comes home to find her frame updated with her first-day-of-school picture to look at throughout the year. We'll start using Zelda's in a couple weeks when she starts three-year-old preschool.

It's funny when you look at your children every day that you only notice bits and pieces of the changes they are going through. I see Annalee's changes most in her smile (teeth going and new, larger ones coming) and her hair. Zelda has grown in height and her speaking abilities are quite advanced (have I mentioned how much she talks?). But, to see last year's first-day pictures and then this year's picture was a real eye-opener. Here, I'll show you what I mean:

The above pictures were taken in August 2010.

Here are the girls this year.

Annalee is looking more mature than I'm ready to admit.

Zelda has lost a lot of her baby face - and is wise beyond her years. So much so that she even lets us know this. "I....am a genius," she will say jokingly. I don't doubt it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All Things Pooh

A short while ago, we had an 'All Things Pooh' Thursday. Pooh, as in Winnie the Pooh. Mostly, I thought the girls would enjoy seeing the new Winnie the Pooh movie. Given that I like theme days (see Froot Loop Friday in the previous post), I figured we'd make a day of it.

We started with Pooh-shaped pancakes for breakfast. They didn't really look like Pooh; but, the girls used their imaginations. Rather than using syrup, we sweetened our pancakes with honey - a Pooh favorite. Later that morning, I broke out the flavored honey sticks that I had purchased from a honey vendor earlier in the week at a local farmers market. We also enjoyed the honey sticks at the movie, which was brief (65 minutes) but entertaining. We ended the day with Zelda wearing her piglet costume (thank you, Cormiers!).

I get a big kick out of planning events, if you could call this that. Some theme days are more involved or interesting than others. But, what I like most is the way it stays with the kids. It wasn't just a day that we saw a movie or ate honey sticks. It was a day that had significance. I know this because Zelda was talking about something this morning and said, " ...remember when we had the 'All Things Pooh' day..." That's when I knew I had succeeded. I had created a memory for my daughters.

ADDENDUM: Since Becky asked for it, I have located a picture of 'Piglet' from a few months ago. Zelda actually fills out the costume a little better now, but I didn't whip out the camera during All Things Pooh day. Actually, I'm not sure the costume will be big enough for her to wear for Halloween. (Hallelujah to growing!)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The First Part of Summer 2011

I've been remiss. Well, actually, I've been traveling. A lot. And, now we're home for the better part of summer vacation. I had intended to post our list of things we want to do this summer. But, since I never followed up last summer's list with a recap of all we did, I thought I'd change things up this year and just focus on the fun we've been having.

To start off the summer with a bang - and celebrate my birthday - Ron and I along with three very special friends saw Glee Live! I felt like I was 12 again. It was such a rush to watch these talented actors/dancers/singers. I bought a very cool zip-up hoodie to commemorate the event.

Just after school got out, the girls and I flew off to North Carolina to spend time with Ron's family. We enjoyed an extended stay with Ron's dad and got to spend many days visiting Ron's mom. Most evenings looked like this - Ron's dad lives on the Pasquatank River.

We saw two lighthouses - Bodie and Hatteras, lots of white egrets and a fox. We swam often. We went to an aquarium in Manteo and the naval museum in Virginia Beach. We also saw cousins and aunts and uncles - most of whom we saw Zelda was meeting for the first time ever.

While the extended visit was relaxing, the most memorable time for me was when I took the girls to the beach in Kill Devil Hills on June 21, the longest day of the year. All the elements came together to make for an absolutely perfect evening. And though it was hard to get one outstanding picture of the girls together, I did get some wonderful individual pictures - and even some of the pelicans flying over the Atlantic.

We returned home for a few short days and managed to get in a game of miniature golf - on our list of priorities this summer. We had dinner with friends who are moving out of state (so sad but we have a new place to visit). And, the parents of Zelda's future husband had us to their country club for a chi-chi afternoon of swimming and dining. It kind of reminded me of Caddyshack. I was looking for the Baby Ruth bar at the pool. (Thanks Joyce and Bob!)

Then, we were off to Lakeside, Mich., for an Independence Day party combined with a mini family vacation with friends on the beach. This was our second vacation with these two families. The first was two years ago, when we had a 'Dinosaur Day at the Beach' - complete with a dinosaur dig. This year, we held a Kite Day. Pancakes kites set the tone followed by a craft making kite bookmarks. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate for kite-flying. That was made up for the next evening, when the wind came in perfectly off the lake. We held the kites up and off they went into the sky only to come down when we wound them in.


One morning - after finding the Swedish bakery closed, Ron and Alan journeyed two towns north to forage for bakery items. When they came back with a box of goods that reminded me of childhood vacations with the Julians in Minnesota, I knew we had created a tradition that will be repeated for years to come.

A week after returning from Michigan, I was back there with the girls and our friend Charlotte to pick lots of cherries. While it might seem crazy to drive 1-3/4 hours to go cherry picking, it's so worthwhile to go to Stover's, where they run your tart cherries through a pitter. All I had to do was bag 'em up when I returned home. I have three bags in the freezer ready to turn into chopped cherry jam or - the ultimate - cherry pie! If it weren't for this excruciating heat, we would have been back this week for some more.

We have also gone to Brookfield Zoo, along with Papa, Gigi, Auntie Pat and the twins. We picked a lovely, warm and breezy day - the nicest of the week.

We ended that week with Froot Loop Friday. When I wrote that notation on the chalk board, my sole intention was to let the girls know that they could have Froot Loops for breakfast on that particular day - after some form of protein. But, when we started the day, I realized we needed to incorporate those bright colored o's into something more. So, we ended up making Froot Loop cookies in the afternoon. I followed a chocolate chip recipe and split the batter in half before adding chips to one portion and loops to the other. The girls really got into the decorating.

One was even made to look like a fried egg.

Very clever, eh? Needless to say, I stuck with the chocolate chips. Delish!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost, Sunday, June 12, 2011

May the boldness of God's Spirit transform you, may the gentleness of God's Spirit lead you, may the gifts of God's Spirit be your goal and your strength now and always.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011

God the Creator, by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead, strengthen you to walk with him in his risen life.

God the Redeemer who out of defeat brings hope and new alternatives, bring you new life.

God the Giver of Life make you a new creation, Christ for those to whom Christ shall send you.

And the blessing of God be with you and remain with you for ever. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Though this blessing is a repeat from last year's lenten season, it's worth repeating...

Live without fear; your Creator has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Go in peace to follow the good road and may God's blessing be with you always.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011

Give glory to God whose power working in you can do infinitely more than you can ask or imagine and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, Mother of us all, be with you and remain with you for ever.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011

May Christ's bright star enlighten your mind and heart as you strive for equality, justice and kindness in the world and the blessing of God almight, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, Mother of us all, be with you and remain with you for ever.