Sunday, February 28, 2010

A happy picture to start the week...

My daughter modeled this happy crew after one of her stuffed animals. It is a Zum family. My scanner wouldn't scan some of the colors she used her original was much more colorful. Even a bit muted it makes me smile, so I thought I'd share. Smiles on Mondays are good things.

Hope everyone has a great week!

A post where I insist I am not trying to be a food blog...

But it is late February in Michigan. Seriously, life is all about food right now, folks. I cannot lie. And world news certainly has been extreme enough lately to up anxiety levels. Anxiety = Eating. Snow for forever = Eating. News about my favorite bookstore closing = Crying, which of course leads to: Eating. Watch for my early spring lament post over my need for a new wardrobe... Coming soon!

Until then however, we have these! Sort of like homemade Lara Bars. But with extras! Woohoo!

Basically, I just threw equal parts cashews and dates into the food processor, added some coconut oil and a splash of vanilla, ground it all up into a crumbly paste. Pressed it all in a pan and then pressed cacao nibs on top, then popped it into the fridge to firm up.

This is happy food. Happy, happy food. Cookies without flour, processed sugar, and that actually has health benefits. Like lots of magnesium, more potassium than a banana. Lots of fiber, some protein. Lots of fat and calories too, so yeah... Not all good. But hey! Not all bad either. In late February we always look on the bright side of food things.

Like these three little creatures... They are certainly the bright side of being snowed in with lots of family time still sprawling ahead of us. They not only make cabin fever tolerable, but they even manage to make it laugh-like-crazy fun.

And keeping with the late February theme -
I could eat them up I love them so! Da, dun, dunt... 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What a WEEK!

This week has been sort of crazy! We started with a shift in our homeschooling which has been good, but tiring for me. I found out that our local bookstore is closing! Not good. Not good at all. We in fact are grieving a bit over that news. It was our haunt and I just can imagine our summer without the daily walk to the bookstore to browse and to get a cup of coffee to sip while I watch the kids play on the playground nearby. Both things change up our routines so much, I'm feeling a bit off kilter. So my usual sparse February posting habits are lacking more than ever. Oh, and my stepson announced he was engaged... 

Yep! What a week!

I haven't accomplished a lot of extra stuff with all of this going on, and anything I did accomplish was along the lines of 'comfort creating'. Like baking, or these clipboards. I have a stash of clipboards that I've accumulated over the years. I think I found some of the on clearance, and I picked up a few more at the store the other day at a good price. One by one I'm giving them little clipboard makeovers. Nothing too fancy because I have little brain power to spare, and not much more spare time. But enough to make me happy. I painted these two small boards to go in my kitchen, where all the extras are black.

Before I took this shot, I saw the fridge and thought, "Oh, I should clear that messy mess." Then went pffhhhttt.... I figured anyone that is shocked at my cluttered fridge front, really doesn't belong on my blog. Same feeling toward the hanging aprons, and the towel on the fridge handle... sigh. Life isn't a magazine, is it? But the boy who popped into the shot and then ran out? He more than makes up for the lack of shiny magazine moments in a day. He reminds me that 'real' is what is important, for if anyone was ever a real boy, it is that child. Oh... and yes, my fridge is leaning. Old house. Old floors. Real!

Here are my little clipboards in action. One for the ongoing grocery list, and one for our business memos. I am going to train my husband to check there as soon as he comes in the door. That is originally what the drawing board above the clipboards was purchased for, but that has been taken over by my children. I choose not to fight impossible battles. (Speaking of impossible battles... Notice I removed the towel in this picture? I couldn't help myself. I left the rest of the 'real' for you though.)

Oh, and I must mention my little paint speckled chair. I LOVE this little chair. I pretty much stole it from my mother-in-law and she can never have it back. But she has my rocking chair now, so we are even on the chair score. A bit of chair symbiosis going on but hey, it works. This is my sit with the kids around their little table chair, my fill out the grocery list chair, my sit in the kitchen and talk to my husband before he leaves for work chair, my put my shoes on chair, my clean out the fridge chair, etc. etc. Obviously, it is my paint the door trim chair as the paint spattered surface attests to. Love. This. Chair. Wait... what is this post about again?

Clipboards! Oh, yeah. (And how my stepson is !!!shock!!! engaged*... Engaged!) Huh... If you click on this picture you can see my silly attempt at decorating them. I drew on the black paint with white color pencil then modge podged the whole thing. It looks very little kid chalkboardish. I like it. It works.

And since this is a comfort creation post, here is a shot of the oatmeal I made the other day. Pure comfort. I have to admit that this was the best oatmeal I've ever made and ever eaten. In fact, I think of anything I've ever posted on this blog, this oatmeal is the best of all. I am not being boastful. I am being honest. It is good. Though that is just my opinion. My children informed me that they still like the presugared, prepacked oatmeal packets better. But we are cutting WAY back on sugar, so sorry kids. You are stuck with this 'second rate' real food stuff. They managed to suffer through eating it. But I practically sang through breakfast it made me so happy. And since our winter world is devoid of growing things and color, this dish was pleasing on many levels.

Quick recipe: (four servings) I put two cups of frozen blueberries and two cups of milk into a saucepan and slowly brought it all to a boil. Then I stirred in a cup of oatmeal, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of brown sugar. After the oatmeal mostly cooked I chopped up a big ripe banana and threw that in and stirred it in well. Once it was all a nice yummy done mess I scooped it into bowls, topped it with cinnamon, sliced almonds, a bit of granola and sliced strawberries. Serious comfort food!

* To be honest I am fine with my stepson being engaged. Sure he and his girlfriend are young, but they are devoted to each other, and in this haphazard world that is almost anti-relationship, I find their sweet commitment refreshing. They are planning on waiting to marry until after he graduates from the police academy in two years. That is a long time to wait, so we will see what we see. But they have forward moving plans, and young fervent hearts, and I like that and I am not ashamed to admit it. But I do admit that it was the sort of thing that makes you step back and reassess life, and we sure had a week of such sport! Woohoo!

Here's hoping for a nice, mellow weekend!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Toothbrush Pockets

Awhile back I mentioned the big overhaul of my craft room/office space and various other places in my home. The transfer of my material stash from its hiding place under the window seat to the small cubby area in the craft room was involved. It was not pretty. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth transpired but in the end, (oh, I wish it were actually the end) it was worth it. I think.

I am a big believer in 'out of sight, out of mind' and how it is bad if you are talking about consumable things like craft supplies. So whenever possible I like to have any craft materials, or 'to do' projects organized, but kept in view. Seeing all the material after it had been stashed away brought to mind many projects that had disappeared into the back of my brain. So it was fun in that respect. And obviously, from this picture you can see that blue jeans were among the great material migration of 2010.

I have a small bathroom that is shared by everyone in the family. It can be interesting to say the least. But  one of my main issues was that I had no perfect place to store our toothbrushes except on shelves that were situated over the toilet. Yes. Ewww... And I am a germ person. I really, really hate it when someone else's toothbrush touches mine. Hate. It. Once, my husband even started laughing and saying something like, "You know you've been married a long time when you can accidently brush your teeth with your wife's toothbrush and it doesn't bother you." I was like, "Wow. I used to love you." And divorced him. The end...

No. But I threw that toothbrush out. Germ. Issues. So the over the toilet toothbrush storage was always bugging me and so I was always trying to work out a way for more storage in my bathroom.

I saw all the jeans and had an idea to use the pockets for the toothbrushes as they are flat enough to use behind the door that swings into the room. The door doesn't actually hit the pockets, but it would have hit a shelf or anything that stuck out too far, which had previously limited the use of that wall for storage. Now I am happy to report the toothbrushes live about as far away from the toilet as possible in the tiny room.

I cut out the pockets and sewed around them so they'd be strong enough to throw in the wash when needed. I then got fancy and sewed the little name tags on the front which probably won't survive being machine washed, but that is no big deal.  When the time comes I'll make new name tags if need be. Then, I put those little hooks that stick on the wall and hung the little toothbrush pockets.

The pockets have been a hit with the family. The kiddos can take their pockets down easily so they can reach their little toothpastes inside (to each his own germs I say). And yes, my dog has her own toothbrush pocket, with her own poultry flavored toothpaste. Mmmm... chickeny fresh! While she probably wouldn't mind her toothbrush being stored over the toilet, the sixth pocket makes everything nice and even.

Hey, it is the middle of February already! Woohoo! This time next month the blogs will all be filled with garden planning and fun spring stuff like that. Sometimes the whole time flying by thing feels like a good thing. Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

We've had such a lovely laid back weekend. Today I decided to go all out with a special Valentine's breakfast. Loaded waffles, like dessert for breakfast. Homemade waffles, with homemade blueberry sauce, strawberries, bananas, almond slices, whipped cream (flavored with a bit of vanilla) and a sprinkle of granola. Mmmmmm!!! The best part about this breakfast is there is very little extra sugar, just what is present naturally in the fruit and in the bit of granola on top. I sweeten the blueberry syrup with a bit of stevia. We're all happy when we indulge in this for breakfast!

Then while the kids took the daddy and dog out to play in the snow, I played around with my blog. I've been trying to turn it into a three column blog for a long time. I don't know why. I just wanted too have more space to play with. I finally succeeded! Without blowing up the whole darn thing too. But then I realized the old header and backing weren't working anymore. So I drew some little bright houses in photoshop for a new header. So now my blog is all happy colors and ready for the seasons to change! But if anyone notices anything weird, or something isn't showing up, loading slowly, etc. Please let me know. I am not done messing around with everything yet, so changes would be easy to make!

Finally, I just have to share this photo...

My two youngest 'puppies' sitting in the puppy crate. That look on his face captures his personality so well. Such a lovable little scamp. I could eat him up I love him so!

Hope everyone's holiday is filled with sweetness and light!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The sky like fire...

Warmed my February-chilled world.

Doesn't that just scream, "The SUN! Be warm!"?

I grabbed the camera and had barely five minutes left of this amazing blaze in the sky. I didn't have time to scrape the car or I would have slipped and skidded to the lakefront for photos. But I took what I could get which was my window view through trees, over industry and into the reason I stay in Michigan. Those colors! Like vitamins for the soul.

A bit of trivia - The smoke stackish thing above the roof line at the bottom of the picture is in fact a stack that makes smoke. Coal smoke. At least it does when the weather allows for across-the-lake tourist travel on the local carferry. It is not actually right next door like this picture makes it seem. I didn't realize the zoom on my little point and shoot camera was so wicked awesome until now.

I like a sunset like this against the starkness of winter even better than such a view on a glorious summer eve. It is like biting into a ruby red grapefruit, stunned and almost drunk on its juice, just when you think you can't stand the offerings of winter one second more. A reminder of what lies beneath the endless white and gray. Color. Vitality. Warmth.

Ah... a fine winter's eve indeed. A song to end on then? Can't go wrong with this one tonight...

Ah, yes. Sing it, Sarah.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oh, Martha...

You had me at printable checklist.

It is full on February in my little huddled down corner of the world. To combat what could quickly become raging cabin fever, we've been cleaning and organizing (and have been for awhile now). I am optimistically calling it Spring Cleaning, and it does make me smile. My mom called me to share the above Martha Stewart lists with me, as she knows that is where my heart is at right now. Thanks, Mom!

The good news is, that by the time Spring actually shows up around here, we'll be ready for her. And we won't have to waste any sunshine scrubbing away the winter. We can just dive outside and soak up the vitamin D and dream about gardening.