Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eves

15 years ago tonight I was on a plane to India about to embark on one of my major life experiences. I was with a group of mostly nursing students going to study and practice at the Christian Medical College & Hospital.

10 years ago tonight I was supposed to get engaged, although I didn't know that was the plan. Unfortunately, the one doing the proposing was in bed with a stomach virus so our romantic dinner reservations were cancelled. I remember being a bit annoyed, although in retrospect I see that I was being a bit insensitive since the poor guy was working night shifts and puking. But it all worked out fine in the end. He proposed the next day (and, in case you are wondering, I said "yes").

5 years ago tonight Matt and I were returning from a trip to Colorado Springs to look at potential neighborhoods and homes as we would be moving there less than 6 months. I had left 10 month old Kate with my mom for 3 nights. It was hard enough for me to leave her, but then she refused to breastfeed once I return. She never did go back to the breast. Being very pregnant with Jack was also probably a factor.

Tonight we are in the mountains and cozy in front of the fire after a day of skiing and sledding. We opted out of our traditional fondue dinner and went with Chinese takeout instead. My fortune from my cookie reads, "No problem leaves you where you found it." I'll be honest that I don't understand it... can anyone help? And is it a good or a bad omen for 2010?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Getaway...

...from everything. That is what we are enjoying this week. Good, calm, downtime in the mountains. I'm trying to stay away from the computer - only somewhat successfully. Beyond our normal outdoor activities, snuggling, reading, game playing, eating and sleeping have been our top priorities.

We did a family ski outing yesterday. It was our first time out as a family with everyone skiing independently. Kate is a little speed demon and is quite excited to start skiing "bumps" (her ski lingo cracks me up! Yesterday she took a tumble, looked up at me and said, "oops! I caught an edge!"). Matt and Kate are out skiing together as I type. I imagine they'll find something to satisfy Kate's urge to ski bumps. Jack is strong and old enough this year to ski in control. Although I imagine the "control" won't last long. He is always on the look-out for places to jump, has a fascination with the terrain park, and has decided that he wants to learn to ski backwards (he took off backwards down the hill after said announcement). Matt couldn't be more pleased than to have both kids enjoying his favorite sport. I look forward to the day when they are all better skiers then me, and I can relax alone with my tea and a book while waiting for them to come home.

I've taken some photos and video (on my new Flip video camera - a Christmas present - with a family photo emblazoned on the front!), but left my camera cord at home. Maybe I'll post photos once we return home. Maybe.

We've been firming up our 2010 travel plans this week. We'll take our annual trips (Alabama and Moab), visit family in some of our favorite places (Dallas, Austin, Maine), explore some Colorado locales, make our 2nd road trip across the Midwest (although instead of Minnesota and South Dakota this year, we'll head to Michigan and Indiana instead), and leave some room for unexpected trips as well. I'm looking forward to 2010.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Kitchen

My parents and my grandma arrived Tuesday, and it's all about Christmas in our kitchen yesterday and today. For me, holidays are a time for putting all the try-to-make-it-healthier attempts aside. I actually get a bit annoyed with magazine articles promoting "healthy" holidays! Not that we eat horribly during the holidays, but we do indulge in all of our favorites.

Yesterday we made several loaves of Christmas Banana Bread (using dried cherries instead of maraschino cherries - and we used hazelnuts instead of walnuts for the first loaf - YUM!) for neighbors.

Cookie baking (and eating!) is in full force... chocolate gingerbread, candy cane fudge, colored sugar rounds, corn flake wreaths, and a few others that I haven't decided on yet.

Today we'll make a Swedish tea ring for Christmas morning and maybe a gingerbread house (the kids have their heart set on making one, so I hope we find the time!)

I'm also doing lots of non-Christmas cooking with a full house. Lentil and brown rice soup with homemade bread Tuesday night. Au jus sandwiches with cabbage slaw and sweet potato fries last night. Tonight, we'll have our traditional oyster stew (this recipe is SO much better than the one we grew up eating!), popovers, and apple/walnut/blue cheese salad. Christmas Day is ham, Hoosier potatoes, homemade bread, and something green still TBA.

And LOTS of cookies!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Meme

From Marie from whom I seem to steal all post ideas.

Eggnog or hot chocolate? hot chocolate... with marshmallows!

Does Santa wrap the presents or leave them open under the tree? Santa fills the stockings and leaves a present or two unwrapped under the tree. But Mom doesn't put out all the presents until Christmas Eve. That way it looks like bunches of presents arrived over night.

Colored lights on tree or white? Oddly enough, I prefer colored, blinking lights on the tree, but currently have white, non-blinking lights. I think I couldn't find colored LED the year I bought them. Might have to change that next year.

Do you hang mistletoe? I should have hung some in our entry. Not sure where to get the real stuff (not going to do the fake, plastic mistletoe)

When do you put decorations up? I put up a few the weekend after Christmas and just add to it as we get closer. The tree usually doesn't go up until 1-2 weeks before Christmas.

What's your favorite holiday dish? Fudge!!

Do you open gifts Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? We open a few gifts Christmas Eve (always PJs and books) and everything else Christmas morning

How do you decorate your tree? Lights and personal ornaments. All of our ornaments have meaning. Most are souvenirs from travels.

Snow. Love it or hate it? Love it as long as I don't have to go anywhere and it isn't too cold

Can you ice skate? I can go forwards and backward and sorta around. But not in a steady way.

What's your favorite holiday desserts? Fudge!!

What's your favorite holiday tradition? Putting out our Christmas clock that plays a carol every hour

Candy Canes- yum or yuck? yuck on the minty ones, yum on the cherry ones!

Favorite show? Old version of "Miracle on 34th Street." Can you believe that I've never seen "It's A Wonderful Life?"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Cards

Sending out holiday cards is one tradition that I have not been able to give up despite the fact that it is far from being "green." The alternatives - no card, email greetings, etc. - just don't work for me. But I am trying to slowing improve what I send out. This year I opted for a postcard. Much less paper with no folded card and no envelope. I also am telling myself that the energy used to deliver the cards is less (but somehow I doubt that my scant 120 cards are making too big of an impact. Although I guess if everyone did it, the combined effort would be substantial.) Plus I found some other unexpected benefits. No stuffing and licking envelopes and less postage (only 28 cents!). I ordered our cards from Zazzle this year. Zazzle has some info about using paper with recycled content for some products, but I wasn't clear about the postcards. I'll do a little more research before sending out cards for 2010.
ps - I just mailed the cards, so if you are expecting one from me, it probably hasn't arrived yet! Hope I'm not ruining the "surprise" of getting it in the mail!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just a Few More Days

Before Thanksgiving, I thought I had Christmas completely under control. Now that it is just a week away, I need a few extra days. Just a few. Mostly so I can get boxes of gifts shipped in the mail for a reasonable price. Okay, back to work!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recycling Wrap

I read in a Family Circle magazine that according to informinc.org, if each household in the US were to recycle wrapping on 3 presents, the paper saved would cover 45,000 football fields!
You can use newspaper, fabric, maps... I chose to use some magazine pages. These are 2 that I wrapped using a holiday decorating spread. And for the larger presents that I'm not recycling wrap, I'm using wrap made from recycled paper that I bought on clearance last year (I think I got it at Target).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What I've Been Up To


Unfortunately, I can't share the finished projects until after I give them...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy Hannakah

We went to a Hannakah party on Friday evening. The kids loved it.
Made this little driedel bag for a friend. Snagged the idea from The Purl Bee. Next time I'd like to line the bag instead of leaving raw edges.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cranberry Sauce Muffins

I made these muffins after Thanksgiving and liked them so much that I actually made more cranberry sauce just so I could make more muffins! I would share a photo except that we ate them all too fast (it only makes 12 muffins although I got a few additional minis out of the recipe) I also want to try this cranberry-streusel corn muffin recipe from Country Living this weekend. They have Rosemary-Cranberry Sorbet that sounds amazing, but it has been too darn cold to even think about sorbet.

Cranberry Sauce Muffins
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup stone ground whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1 T ground flax
1 T wheat germ
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup oil (I use walnut or canola)
1 egg
1 cup cranberry sauce
1-2 T sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Line muffin tin with baking cups (the unbleached, recycled ones!)

Combine flour through salt. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, blend milk through egg.

Gently fold liquid ingredients into dry ingredients until just moist. Loosely stir in cranberry sauce.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full of batter. Sprinkle some sugar over each cup.

Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Rosie Hippo

Still have some shopping to do? I thought I was done shopping, but I think I am going to get Jack these signs. (He is really into road signs lately... which reminds me that I never blogged about our sign making project...) I think I'll also get some other Plan Toys and save them for his birthday in March. I'm getting them at the Rosie Hippo where they are having a friends and family sale that is too good to pass up. Save 25% when you use the code RHFF25 (like always, some restrictions apply!) through Dec 10th.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Oh no, oh no...

Do you know what my 5 year old daughter just said to me?!? We were picking out her clothes for school (we are on a 2 hour delay because of snow), and she told me that she wanted some "grown-up jeans." P0inting to her thighs, she said, "You know, Mom, the kind that are tight right here. And I want them dark blue, like jeans you would wear on a date."

Just shoot me now!

Baking

Before Kate and Jack, my most anticipated moments to becoming a mom were the making-gingerbread-men-from-scratch kinda ones. I just couldn't wait to share that type of activity with my kids. The reality? It drives me absolutely bonkers.

While making gingerbread men yesterday, I kept reminding myself of Marie's holiday motto "Keep it simple, keep it special." I had to tell myself over and over and over that...

These are just gingerbread men.
We are not Martha.
They do not have to be perfect.
It is just flour.
It is cheap, and it cleans up easily.
(my goodness they like flour!)
I want the kids to have fond memories of baking.
Being irritated isn't helping that goal
nor is constantly telling them the "right" way to do it.
So I just need to let the kids do it
with as few "no's" as possible.
And once I stepped back and let go,
I realized we were having a great time!
I use a Martha gingerbread recipe for our cookies but add an extra egg because we tend to use a lot flour when rolling them out. Did I mention all the flour?!? Argh.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snowy Day Thoughts

Woke up to a nice snowy day.

I wasn't expecting it and had been planning a long run today (maybe I should be better at checking the weather... nah, the snow was a nice surprise!). The run is not going to happen in the snow. Maybe I'll jump on the treadmill later. I've been a bit of a slacker on the running. Partly because of the weather, partly because of the holidays, partly because I've been feeling a bit blah about it. However, no more slacking! The Austin half marathon (for which I am now officially registered) is 10 weeks from today!

We picked out our Christmas tree yesterday and decorated it last night. We chose a farm raised tree from our local garden store The Good Earth. I would have loved to get one from the National Forest, but we don't have four wheel drive. AWD, yes, but no FWD. And I'm not about to get stuck! Decorating the Christmas tree may be my favorite thing all year. All of our ornaments have meaning, and it brings back memories to hang each one up. I may try to share a few on the blog.

Matt has a work thing for about half the day. I made my kids a puff pancake for breakfast (their favorite - they'll eat a whole pan on their own!) and am letting them watch The Nutcracker on PBS this morning. I promised that we would make gingerbread men later today. I need to get some kitchen chores done to prep for this week - boil beans, chop veggies, make popcorn, etc. I also want to get some sewing done as I'm working on a few presents.

Perfect day for snow.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

First Step Organic

Thought I'd pass this along even though I don't need any tiny baby clothes anymore. (I'm working on getting all that baby stuff cleaned out!)

First Step Organic is offering 20% off purchases until Christmas when you use the coupon code HOLIDAY.

And if you are pregnant, have a baby, know a baby or are thinking about a baby, check back with me soon! I'm going to do a giveaway for some baby items.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Snowshoe Race

Last weekend I was in my first snowshoe race! My friend Kerri and I were in the Gobbler Chase at Copper Mountain. It was only my second time to ever have snowshoes on AND I cut the tags off my own snowshoes just minutes before the race. So you should be very impressed that I did 5K - half of which was uphill. A great way to burn off that extra piece of Thanksgiving pie!

Posing with the kiddos
Kate trying snowshoes
With Jack
Finishing
Jack bugging the hot chocolate guy for another refill

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Garnet Hill Family & Friends Event

I've said it before, I'll say it again. I love Garnet Hill. For me, for the kids, for the house. I love that they have a nice selection of organic and "green" cotton items. I love that their products are high quality and last. I love that it is the right balance of stylish and classic and functional and outdoorsy and fun.

Today through Dec 7th, Garnet Hill is having their family and friends event. Since you are all my friends, use the code R9B23012 to receive 20% off our order (there are a bunch of exclusions that I'm not going to type out... just know that certain brands, sale items, gift cards, etc. aren't included!)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sisters?

Kate occasionally asks me for a sister. Since that isn't going to happen, I guess she decided to work with what she's got...
Jack wasn't thrilled with the idea. I suppose that is a good thing.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Overparenting

I saw this issue of Time in the airport a couple weeks ago and meant to look it up when I got home. I forgot until today. I enjoyed the article, and although I sometimes catch myself in helicopter mode (or at least helicopter temptation!), I think I am pretty good about letting my kids "just be."

Free Yogurt Cup Offer

Being a fan of both Stoneyfield and Preserve products, I had to pass along this offer...

From Stoneyfield Farms:
We are now rewarding our consumers for buying our yogurt in quarts with a free reusable yogurt cup!

“When consumers buy our quarts instead of single-serving cups, they pay less for their yogurt, but we know that a quart is not as convenient as single-serving cups for on the go consumption,” says our President and CE-Yo Gary HIrshberg. “The reusable yogurt cup gives our quart buyers the convenience of the Stonyfield 6 oz cups by providing a way to create easily transportable single servings for anywhere, anytime.”

Yogurt lovers just have to buy four Stonyfield yogurt quarts through December, and mail in the foil lids (describing this offer), and they’ll receive the reusable, eight-ounce yogurt cup made by Preserve®. Made from 100% recycled plastic, the cup is perfect for yogurt-lovers on the go, the ideal size for breakfast or a snack, with room to stir in fruit or granola. It’s dishwasher safe, BPA-free with a screw-on lid – and it’s made in the US.

Consumers will also get $4.50 worth of Stonyfield and Preserve coupons along with the cup.

Our recycling partner since 2000, Preserve uses innovative methods to turn used materials (including used Stonyfield yogurt cups) into stylish, useful household products like toothbrushes, colanders, cutting boards and tableware. Preserve products are 100% recycled and recyclable too.

Consumers can mail clean foil lids, with name, address and phone number on an index card or 4” x 6” sheet of paper by February 28, 2010 to:

Stonyfield Farm
Reusable Cup Offer
PO Box 4840
Manchester, NH 03108-4840

Cups will be shipped starting in January, 2010 with delivery in 10 to 12 weeks. This offer is good only in the US, while cup supplies last, and is limited to one cup per household (to better spread the love around).
Get the full info here at Preserve Cup Offer.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Novembers Past

I got this idea from Marie over at Life in a Tiny Town where she shared some of her old November photos. I've already shown you my photos from South Africa, Nov 1999. Here are some other photos from the years between then and now.

November 2008
Blog photos from Disney

November 2007
Lots of Blog Photos - American Girl, self-inflicted haircuts, etc.

November 2006
Kate, Jack and Coco having a picnic in cohousing a few days after a huge snowstorm
Kate - 2.5 yrs
Jack - 20 months
Jack looking at a toy catalog - he still loves to do that!
November 2005
Our first year in Colorado
My sister and I with the kids in Austin
Kate - 21 months
Jack - 8 months
My mom and Kate feeding ducks at her house in Dallas.
November 2004
Back in Indiana
Kate's (9 months) first Thanksgiving
I'm about 5 months pregnant with Jack and already SO puffy!
November 2003
With my grandma - I'm about 6 months pregnant with Kate and starting to swell.
Grandma and I had matching feet!
November 2002
In Cabo for a friend's wedding
November 2001
Hiking at the ranch in Arizona
I think that is Mexico in the background
November 2000
Just a few months after we got married we adopted Kelso from the Humane Society
Sadly, Kelso isn't with us anymore.
I was going to go back into the 90's, but then I got side tracked and wasted a good hour+ looking at photo albums and getting nostalgic! Maybe for next November I'll go further back...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Red Mountain Trip - Day 4

On the final day of the trip which was also Matt's birthday, we opted to go canyoneering. We had a guide take us through Yankee Doodle Canyon. After all the hiking, we finished up the trip with a massage at the spa and another early bedtime. Ah, the luxury of a good night of sleep!


First rappel


Biggest rappel
Hiking through the canyon

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Red Mountain Trip - Day 3

Last Friday while on our trip in Utah, we again slept in a bit. Had another tasty, healthy breakfast. Picked up the brown bag lunches we requested and headed towards Zion National Park. We didn't have much of a plan (this was the first time for both of us and we knew we didn't have time to truly explore the park. We'll go back when the kids are a bit older), but knew we wanted to do at least one good hike. The Angel's Landing hike had been recommended, so after a quick drive through the valley to see the highlights (the valley is open to car traffic this time of year - usually you can only get in via shuttle bus), we started off.


Two turkeys
Now neither Matt nor I really knew what to expect on this hike. We had been told that there were some steep parts (not recommended for those scared of heights) and that there were *some* chains at the top. So up we go, and I am snapping photos thinking we are getting pretty high.
And we get to an area that we *think* is basically the top. We see a few chains, but it doesn't seem to lead anywhere much higher. So we took some photos.
We admired a condor (#31 of only 170-ish in the wild!).
Then we decide to follow the chains to what we assume is the top.
Until we realize that we have to go all the way up there, and, let me tell you, it looks much steeper and much more narrow in real life! (I consider myself a moderately adventurous girl, but I almost chickened out...)
There were signs up all over about how hikers die when they fall from this trail. In some spots, it was a LONG way down on both sides.
I was pretty nervous at times.
(I giggle when I'm nervous so don't let the smiles fool you!)
But we made it to the top and to an amazing view.
Someday I'd like to see a sunrise or a sunset from here.
And safely back down (going down the steeps was harder than getting up!).
See where I'm pointing? That's where we were.