Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter 2011 Update: Woohoo! Four blog posts this month... I'm on FIRE!

Well, more like freezer burned. Ahhh... Winter. How you try me. See the sky in this picture? I took this shot because the sky was a pretty shade of blue, verses the more usual gray of the season. Notice the lack of sun. Well, the sun does shine sometimes but it hardly counts, because it is COLD. I don't think we've had one day of packing snow yet this winter. There is an unfortunate lack of snowpeople around due to this and that is just sad. If the snow doesn't pack, it is too cold to seek sun on the skin. That opinion might brand me a wuss but there it is. My winter rule.

However, we endure. A few new things added to our typical lineup have us surviving the cabin without too much fever.

The first helpful addition to our winter-selves is the drinking of green smoothies. "WHAT?!" Right? That is how I reacted I was when I first read about them here. But I was intrigued, and thanks to my Nook and its ability to poof books magically into my home at 2 a.m. I downloaded a book by the Boutenko family and read it into the wee hours. It was one of those life changing moments. That sounds dramatic, but I am pretty serious.

I mean, I've tried to get my kids (and self) to eat greens, but honestly I thought I was awesome when I'd get them to eat a small pile of spinach leaves a few times per week. I'm sorry to admit that we had never eaten enough greens. Ever. Well, this has changed! And oh, after drinking these smoothies for a few weeks now, do I ever feel a difference. And they are EASY! That is the best part. And surprisingly delicious. Which is the other best part.

How we make green smoothies:
I usually make four at a time, two small ones and two large ones. For this amount I use about 2 cups of plain unsweetened coconut milk (this kind) though water works just fine. We just like how the coconut milk mellows it out some. I throw two bananas in the milk. Top with greens of the day. Today was spinach. Spinach is our favorite, but we switch it up mostly because we're supposed to. (Other greens make it have more of a grassy taste, not a bad taste but not as mellow as the spinach.)

Don't worry. We don't stop here. If I just blended this combo the smoothie would be too green for us at this point. I'm sure there are people out there that would be fine with this, but we're newbies. We need sweet stuff to make the medicine go down.

So I add the good stuff. Some frozen berries usually. Sometimes pineapple. Whatever fruit sounds good. Today it was frozen blueberries and strawberries. Which made our smoothies not so green in the end. The weight of the frozen berries really smunches the greens down and makes it look like there isn't a lot in there in this picture. There is a LOT of spinach in it though since the greens are the main point of the whole operation.

 See? Not-so-green, green smoothies. :)

Sometimes they are quite green though!

They taste good no matter what color they end up. Honest. Well, there was one unfortunate smoothie made with mint leaves that we've crossed off the list forever and ever and ever. But other than that one, they have all been pretty awesome. And a welcome burst of nutrition for our sun-starved selves.

Even my dog likes them. She 'hoots' whenever I use the blender now. (Whenever she wants something she makes a noise much like a small owl. It is honestly one of the most adorable things I've ever heard in my life.) So of course: Hoot = Dog gets smoothie. 'Cause I am a complete mush-ball.

The next thing making winter bearable is actually a very recent addition to our days. But it is quickly becoming a family favorite:

Hula hoops!

Oh my gosh, have you hula hooped any time in your adult life? (I'm saying this in a breathless, gushingly dramatic sort of way. If you can't tell, I'm sort of hyper over this one.) If your answer is no, get your hands on an adult sized hula hoop and give it a whirl (pun intended because I am an unapologetic dork). It. Is. So. FUN! I mean, I've seen hula hooping catching on around the net and have at least one friend who has found a home in hooping. (Thanks for the inspiration, M!). But until recently I had never tried it myself.

A few nights ago in a desperate attempt to amuse myself I grabbed the kids' hula hoop and did what I could with that little thing. Which wasn't much. But I could do enough to make me 'get' what the 'hoopla' was about. (Yeah, yeah, I meant that pun too. I don't blame you if you stop reading. I have no control over these things. It is almost February after all.)

The hoops in the picture above are my kids' little hoops and two I've made from irrigation tubing using this tutorial. I need to get more tape asap. I really want to finish my candy cane striped hoop. I ordered a hoop from the local yoga shop, but got impatient waiting for it and knew I wanted a smaller one as well. So I purchased the stuff to make my own hoops, which yes was silly but... Winter. Almost February. There is no logic left in the season.

Anyway... hooping. Again another easy and surprisingly enjoyable thing. I love making hula hoops. I have mad plans to outfit my whole extended family in hula hoops. But as much fun as I have making them - I love playing with them more. And OH. My stomach muscles are sore! Proof that not only do I mentally need a hula hoop this winter, but physically I could use one as well.

And for full disclosure: It is not all fitness drinks and racing hearts at my house. Oh no. Winter has its traditions and my favorites involve blankets, books, cocoa and sleeping in. Things I quite miss in the frenzied, full summer days. So I make sure to get my fill of them now!

Wishing everyone a lovely winter filled with unexpected pleasures and at least enough sun to not go mad. And for those of you not in the middle of winter right now: You can hula hoop outside! What are you waiting for?!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Blog or Not To Blog...

My little piano man. Just one of the many events in 2010 that I failed to blog.

I was taking a hard look at my blog yesterday. Looking at the archives I noticed something that bothered me a bit. My first full year of blogging I posted an impressive-to-me 224 times, the following year I fell to around half that amount, a less impressive, but not embarrassing 109 times. That is still averaging twice a week, so okay. However, in 2010 I only was able to form a complete thought long enough to post 57 times. I wish I could say I posted once a week, but it was more like 12 times one month and then silence for three months. I seem to be halving my blog time each year.

Which leads me to a decision. I mean, is there a point to blogging a mere 25 times in 2011? Because that is what is likely if I keep to my usual path. Either that or I need to change something up. Leave facebook maybe? Hmmm... So tempting.

I love the blogging community and I love to blog. I also very much enjoy being able to come here and see the things we've done as a family year to year. I really don't think I'm ready to end this, but am questioning why I share the random crafts and stuff that I do, and the time it takes to share them. It is my very own blog version of an existential crisis! lol 

I am going to try to blog at least twice a week for awhile and see how it goes. Some posts coming up will likely be about past projects I've done that I failed to blog, or events like the kids' winter recital that the above photo was taken at. At least until I catch up and get back into the swing of blogging more regularly.

Anyone else questioning their online life in the upcoming year? Anyone have tips and tricks to find balance between online and 'real' life? :0)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

YAY! A New (to me) Camera!

Thanks to my sister and her love for photography I have my hands on a camera that might actually work indoors during a Michigan winter! Which means I can finally take worthy pictures of our bedroom updates. Guess we better make our beds.

My sister upgraded her digital camera this Christmas and happily she was quite open to me buying her older one. And I was quite open to getting a better camera than my little point and shoot at a discounted price. Woohoo!

It's a Sony Cybershot and I have a lot to learn about how to use it. But I already love how it captures much more detail than my little camera, even in the gray light of a winter morning. And to my sister if she happens to read this before I talk to her. I love the camera. Consider it sold!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Love Eleven!

The dregs of a New Year's Double Rainbow drink.

Anyone else excited that this year is 2011? I've always loved the number 11 and while I am not a superstitious person or a numerology person, I get a kick out of numbers and eleven is a favorite. I enjoy the idea of living in a year defined by the number 11. It's an odd number, a prime number, and it is visually symmetrical. What is not to love?

When I saw this drink recipe, I knew I'd have to do something similar for our family New Year's celebration. My family loves the double rainbow video (language warning, btw - for those bothered by such things). I so understand being floored by nature and the double rainbow guy takes being in awe of nature to a wonderful level.

And the whole 11 thing connected in my brain with the word double and that just makes having a double rainbow celebration sort of a given. In my brain 2011 and double rainbow seem to be MFEO. Or maybe I just really, really needed an excuse to use rainbow colored ice cubes, because - Hello! Awesome!

Of course if you are like my husband, you see this photo and don't think COOL!!! like I obviously did. You think, "NO WAY are you feeding my kids this dye, especially when they are staying up until midnight too." Well, I won that particular round and you know what? We all survived it. ;0)

We achieved the 'double' for our double rainbow themed celebration with the addition of fruit salad for our midnight snack. I discovered brightly colored fruit eaten with little wooden hors d'oeuvres forks seems to be an ultimate eating experience for my kids. Who knew? I thought they'd be all excited to be drinking soda with colorful ice but instead the fancy toothpicks captured their hearts. :0)

For our drinks I squeezed a wedge of lemon, lime and orange into sprite and filled the glass with the rainbow ice cubes. Fun stuff. And enough sugar to fuel us into the wee hours.

Double Rainbow!  Btw, my point and shoot camera is hating indoor winter picture taking. So excuse the over exposed flash pictures.

A new year brings out those resolution urges, huh? I am such a list person, so I do like a good goal setting session. Keeping with my double rainbow theme, I think my main goal for 2011 is to embrace life a bit more spontaneously, and dive more completely into the moments that come my way. It is a rather abstract goal, the opposite of list making and concrete goal setting. But it is the truth of what I wish for this year. In short... more double rainbow moments.

Happy 2011! May this year be filled with joy and surprisingly fun things like rainbow colored ice cubes and fancy toothpicks!