Sunday, December 28, 2008

breath....the holidays are over....

I thought I should post a bit about our holidays, especially for those who are far away. I came to this season the same way I have for the last few years. Blindsided. It creeps up on me like a cheesy comic book villain, monologuing all the way. So how do I get so close to 'the date' and end up so unprepared? Well, basically,I ignore it. All of it. After Halloween my brain shuts down and I hole up in my mind ignoring the increasing incidence of Jingle Bells and Feliz Navidads . I clutch my purse to me in Scrooge like fashion and ritualistically burn the scroll length Christmas Wish lists tactfully left on my computer by my daughter.
It worked out though. I pulled out of my melodramatic nose dive, took off my blinders and put on some rose colored glasses instead. The holidays ended up pretty nice. I was able to find some good deals on some decent presents and everyone ended up happy. It was really nice to spend time with my family;nuclear,extended and friends. Inhale...Exhale....Release.
These first photos are are from are Christmas morning. Sylvia got a hamster cage, puzzle books, clothes and slippers. She loved it, which was awesome, 'cause that was my biggest worry.... not going overboard and still pleasing the preteen. The three year old was trucks, tow trucks, his very own digital camera. He was in heaven. I got a wireless mouse for my computer(no more owie finger for me!!!) and a beautiful diamond necklace. Joe got a video game, which I had sent to the wrong address so we are still waiting for it(opps!), a great tie, and a beautifully hand crafted peice of glass art.

These next photos are from my mom's facebook so,umm, they are really small! They were taken down in Harvey at my grandparent's on Christmas. We had a great time, playing golf(a card game...let me know if you want to learn, it's fun!), eating lots of good food and spending time together. The first picture is Joe and I, then Sylvia and Jasper, then my mom and I and the last one is my cousin's Gretta,Lacey and Jorgen.

Oh and one other thing. During my craziness over spending money during the holidays, I threw out how all I really wanted was some matching f@#@ coffee cups......well, they didn't come Christmas morning but still.......
I've been coveting these cups from the World Market for a few months now. Thanks Joe!

Monday, December 22, 2008

:::insert something interesting here:::

Seriously, use your imagination , because I don't have anything worth writing about today. I wanted to change it up a little though since I'm not really down with child labor :)

What could I blog about? I don't know, how about holiday traditions. Does your family have any? Did you choose them yourself or are they rituals from your youth? If you have kept up the traditions of your youth, was this a conscious decision or unconscious? Would you change anything now that you've stopped and thought about?
Okay. Now you get to respond. It's easy to leave a comment, you don't even have to have a blogger account.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Can I get a 'Woot' 'Woot' for Child Labor!

My favorite 11 year old boy came over and shoveled my sidewalk today. It was hard work! I got tired just watching him. There was so much ice under the snow he could only finish half the project I gave him. He was a trooper though. He said he'd come back tomorrow and finish the rest. Jasper went out with him and swept up the snow. It was a tough job too!

Sylvia worked on the driveway and sidewalk. She did a great job!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jessica Liked My Soup!

Dammit! Someone ate my soup and they liked it. She even requested the recipe!

Jalepeno(jelly)and Butternut Squash soup

2 bags frozen cut butternut squash
1/2 bag frozen cut sweet potato
3 tablespoons butter
a lot of cloves of garlic, chopped
chicken stock to cover
1/4 cup jalapeno jelly
4 oz cream cheese
dash of cinnamon
dash of pepper( We always use Simply Organics Garlic Pepper)
salt to taste

In a large saucepan over med heat melt butter and saute the garlic till fragrant
add the squash and sweet potato cover with chicken stock, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer-cook until squash is tender(15-20 minutes)
add the jelly stirring until incorporated.
add the remaining ingredients and then blend with mixing wand until smooth or do it in batches in a blender.

Spoon into bowls, season to taste and enjoy!


I have a problem. Well, actually, I have several problems. And while they all need to be addressed eventually, the one I want to focus on in public is eating. Eating in itself is not a problem. We all have to do it or we die. Unfortunately some of do it for so many other reasons, reasons that have nothing to do with hunger.
I eat because I'm bored, because foods there,because I'm cooking, because I'm being social,because it taste good--and if a little taste good than a lot has to be even better---!
While this hasn't yet lead to any long term health problems and I am currently not very over weight, my habit of mindless eating takes up way to much of my time. I think about how it makes me feel, how I perceive the impact on my weight, why I do it even though I know I shouldn't....
Case in point...I went to the Y this morning and came home. There were cookies on the table that didn't get put away from last night, so I put them away, eating 2 or 3 in the process(well I did just go work out!). Then I decided I needed some eggs, with ham and cheese and that I should put it on one of those trashy but tasty frozen hash brown thingies I bought on a whim. Here's the clincher, the part that continual bites me in the ass.....I made a plate for Jasper. Which is good,'cause he needs to eat too.... only he didn't like the hash browns. I picked up his plate to put it in the kitchen and took a bite, then another...I was standing and not really chewing so it was calorie free right?(and if you stand on your head after sex you'll get pregnant!).

So I'm standing there eating the rest of Jasper's food and with each bite I'm saying things to myself like
"Hey you should just throw this away", "Look there is the garbage can, it's like 1 foot from you!"
"Womyn put down the hash browns! " "You don't even like them, your full! " and finally "Oh, well you've eaten it all now. Great you stupid loser."

It doesn't always happen like this, there are periods in my life where I am very disciplined and uninterested in scavenging off others plates. I did Weight Watchers and lost a lot of weight once. I didn't eat anything when I was first pregnant with Jasper( 'cause I threw everything up!) and when I thought I was dying I lost a lot of weight from general sadness. Those aren't very sustainable states of being though. Today I wonder if it might just be Winter or if it's my genetic make up. Either way it's got to stop!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This post is for Leah.

Everyone needs a good dessert recipe for when your short on time and cash. These delicious and simple cookies are my answer to this dilemma. It's a recipe from my youth. And yes it hasn't escaped my notice that they look like something you might find in the backyard or in a diaper. These aren't pretty, but they are pretty tasty.

No Bake Cookies
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt

in a large saucepan bring to boil over med heat stirring frequently
remove from heat stir in

1 tsp vanilla
3 tbls peanut butter
3 cups oatmeal Note: works best with quick cook oats!

drop by the spoonfull onto wax paper and let sit until cool and hard.

"What have you been up to?" you ask

Well, let's start with the Christmas tree. This year my dad let us borrow this wonderful tree. It's big and beautiful and fake. I love it. They bought it several years ago at Pella's Festival of Lights. Thanks Dad and Gretchen!

Tonight I made a delicious creamy jalapeno and butternut squash soup. Usually I'm not very good at winging soups, they often turn out bland and funky. This one is pretty darn good. Anyone want some? I'm the only one who will eat it :( I served it with some freshly baked home made rolls. Doesn't that sound good? It was. No one will know though, 'cause I'm the only one who will eat it. ;)

This was the scene that greeted me when I walked out of the kitchen after making the soup.I new he was being to quiet! The funny thing is that he's been eyeing that can of tea for a few weeks now. It seems like every time I turned around he had it and was heading for the toys. Now I know why! At least he was doing something constructive with it. He used the tea to build a road. My little worker.As for my creative pursuits. This is the scarf I'm currently working on. It's a simple stitch, but it's tight. I love it.

This is my latest bag. It was a costume order for a friend. She's giving it to her sister who owns a cool company in California. She asked if I could put the logo on it and make it feminine. I thought I was going to have a panic attack, but I did it. I think it turned out nice. You can check out the logo and the shop at

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Jasper and I love to make cookies. He's actually a pretty good helper, all things considered. In fact he's getting to be pretty darn self sufficent. He can get himself a bowl of cereal complete with milk which I'm pretty impressed about.

So here is Jasper as he helps me make a batch of delicous double chocolate chip pecan cookies.

My mother in law gave me her kitchen aid awhile ago and I must say that I don't know what I did with out one. I still haven't figured out where the hell to store it though. It usually stays on the pantry floor with all the other miscellaneous gadgets and over sized food stuff. Anyone want to tackle my kitchen? It would definitely be a pat on the back accomplishment to get that sucker organized.

Anywho. Here is the recipe for the Double Chocolate Chip Pecan cookies. It's actually just a slightly modified version of the Ghirardelli chocolate chip recipe on the back of the bag, which is delicious as is. Like this,though, it's magnificent.

Double Chocolate Pecan Goodness

21 min 10 min prep

2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1/2 cup ghirardelli baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 bag Ghirardelli double chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°.
Stir flour with baking soda,cocoa and salt, set aside.
In large mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture.
Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
Drop tablespoon of dough per cookie onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 375° for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.

Here is another one of my favorite cookies. It's from the Kitchen Parade website. I've copied the recipe for you, but you should check out her site as she has tons of tips and WW friendly foods. In fact these scrumptious morsels are only 1 point each.

Oatmeal cookies with a banana twist
Banana ripening: 2 weeks Hands-on time: 30 minutes Time to table: 1 hour Makes about 30 cookies, easily doubled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 very very ripe banana
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1-1/2 cups oatmeal (old-fashioned or quick, not instant)
1 cup coconut, preferably unsweetened
Preheat oven to 350F.
Melt butter in a small dish in microwave, 10 seconds at a time. Transfer to mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, thoroughly mix in sugars, banana, egg and vanilla.
(Caution: Incoming unorthodox shortcut. See ALANNA’s TIPS.) Scoop the flour, baking power, baking soda and salt onto the butter mixture without mixing in. With a fork, lightly combine the dry ingredients on top, still without mixing in. Now use the mixer to combine the flour mixture and the butter mixture. Stir in oatmeal and coconut.
Drop dough by tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 11 – 14 minutes until set and golden. Cool 5 minutes before removing from tray but do remove or will stick.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Cookie: 98 Cal; 3g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 16g Carb; 1g Fiber; 58mg Sodium; 11mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Massacre of Rainbow Brite

I decided to tackle the crayon in the dryer issue yesterday. When I'd taken the last load out and noticed the crayon embedded on everything I'd been to upset to pay much attention to the inside of the dryer. I just assumed it had some crayon on it since everything else did. I started the cleaning process by doing a bunch of research on the internet. Most postings suggested using comet or WD4o. First, I have a gas dryer, so flammable and fire seemed like a silly idea. Second, I'm paranoid of chemicals. So....I decided to go with the good old stand bye of baking soda and water. Armed with a bowl of baking soda paste, rubber gloves and sponge I headed to the basement to clean up the crayon. I almost had a heart attack when I opened the door!

It wasn't a crayon, someone had murdered a pink pixie in my dryer! I'm kidding, no fey were harmed , but really this was insane. How the hell was this going to get cleaned?

Elbow Grease! After the first five minutes of scrubbing I was sure I could get this all off....if I wanted to live inside the dryer for the next day. Being the lazy person that I am...I mean the industrious person that I am, I decided to let my brother do a load of laundry and see if all the baking soda left inside plus the wet clothes would finish the job.

IT DID! And it didn't ruin any of Skyler's clothes either, which was a bonus.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just FYI knitting is a good past-time. It's something that is not checking your facebook for the umpteenth time or watching 5 episodes in a row of Smalleville. This something requires a bit of brain power , some coordination, and foresight. If I don't get carpel tunnel first, I surely won't get Alzheimers.

Anyway. Today I'm stuck in the house for the second day in a row.
Here are the things I need to do but probably won't:

  1. Figure out how to get crayon out of the dryer and if possible off the last load of clothes I dried. Yes, I washed a crayon. A red crayon. It ruined some of Sylvia's favorite pants, which is awful. Awful because finding pants that Sylv likes to wear is kind of like being shoot in the foot, tied to a chair, and forced to watch the Disney channel. This also includes shopping for shoes and underwear and socks....shirts are easy. So. If anyone knows any tricks to getting crayon off clothes 0r the dryer I would love to know. Also, if anyone wants to take Sylvia shopping.........
  2. Straighten up the back entryway. It's become a catch all. Not to long ago I placed several shelving units on the porch, lined the shoes up, swept, and gave everyone a lecture on keeping it clutter free. No one listened to me. In fact, I did not listen to me! Damn you Mia! I have several boxes of stuff that I've tried to sell to antique shops around town and now need to list on ebay. Instead of doing that I've added these large boxes full of fragile stuffs to the pile of crap on the back porch. everywhere, boxes of glasses and plates teetering on the corner of shelves, some recycling, and other miscellanous ness needs to be figured out.
  3. The built-in in the dining room runnuth over with knick nacks. Clean it. Organize it. Throw shit away?
  4. Light in the laundry room has been broken for about a month now. The whole mechanism needs to be replaced. How the f#$%# do you do that?
  5. I need to wedge a block under my bathtub, 'cause if I don't someday there will be a Money Pit scene in my home.
  6. Make the next two weeks meal plan, figure out a grocery list and go shopping.
  7. Go through and purge Jasper's toys.
  8. My 'corner' of the dining room is getting a bit out of hand. It's where I throw all my lists,bills, magazines, craft supplies, sewing machine, books. Umm. I need a better system.

Hmm.....I think it's time for a glass of wine and a nap.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thankful for Thanksgiving.

I had a lovely Turkey Day. First we went to my grandparents in the cute valley town of Harvey,Ia. We missed a lot of people, Micole and Sundance in Alaska, Jorgen and Gretta in Colorado, Cathy and Micheal and Kelly in Washington, and this time Kirk,Holly,Lacey and Ashley who were otherwise engaged. We missed you all!

I didn't take many pictures that day, but here are a couple:

Then we went to Waukee and had dinner with Joe's family. It was a nice time. We ate good food,especially the candied sweet potatoes and then they played guiter hero on the Wii while I knitted.

Winter Wonderland

Jasper and I had a lovely day today. Sylvia and Joe ran errands while we went out in the beautiful snow and took pictures and threw snowballs.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The two became one

UGHHHH! I decided to work on my socks this morning. I finished one sock and started on the next one only to realize that on the row before I had not switched yarn and had sewn the damn socks together. So I ripped the f$%$#% out and now I have to decide whether I want to continue with the one sock or start all over again. Boo Hoo is me!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Monday night I went to my knitting group and started my first pair of socks. I'm using the magic loop method on size 2 circular needles. We are using the pattern Broadripple Socks which was created by Rob Matyska.
I have a feeling the ‘ripple’ is going to be more of a blob, but I’m excited to be following a pattern and learning a new skill. I’m letting this first pair be very organic. :)
I want to thank the wonderfully talented women who sat next to me and took care of her 14 week old baby while teaching me to work this pattern. It was enough for me to try and remember the pattern but she was able to get her son (who is adorable!) to sleep and teach me how to do it. And thank you Sabbath and Jessica for putting the group together and providing libations. I'm excited for our next meeting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I heart Joe

And not just because he's hot,though that does help ;) He also happens to be a great father and a wonderful cook. The way to my heart happens to be through my stomach.
He's also hard working, creative, funny and smart. Just when I think I have him pegged he shows me a new side of himself. Which is an important thing to do when in a relationship with a Scorpio, we tend to need a little shaking up now and then. Plus, and this is a biggie, he let's me be me.
So, Joe, this post is for you. Thanks for being my husband. I love you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's a Stew, It's a Pie, It's a Stew Pie!

Yes, you read right. I made a stew pie. Not just any stew pie. A beef stew pie. But not just any beef stew pie. A beef stew pie topped with mashed potatoes. Shepard's Pie you say? Well, you'd be wrong because there was no ground beef in sight.

Stupid you say? Well, yes. I'm bored and trying hard to be creative and witty. It's painful and a little humiliating.

The recipe:

For the stew:

Refer to earlier post that's titled something about what your eating for dinner tomorrow.

Use half as much broth and replace beer with red wine. Also use a turnip,potatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, tarragon, oregano, spike, garlic pepper and frozen mixed veges ( green beans, peas, and carrots).

Other than that follow the other recipe. To a T.

Add the stew to a pre made pie crust....or make your own, it's easy but won't taste as good.

Top with mashed potatoes...I made mine with butter and chedder cheese.

Bake at 350 for about an hour.

Let cool and enjoy. It will be delicious. I promise.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


So West Des Moines now has an Aveda Institute, which is pretty cool. They use the public as 'hair models' AKA Guinea pigs for their students. I went and dyed my hair brown last week and this week Sylvia went and got highlights. I'm not sure anything makes me feel older than my daughter choosing to get her hair highlighted. It's cute though and it was a good experience for her. I had to leave her alone since I had Jasper with me, so she felt pretty grown up by the end of it. Of course is that really a good thing?

Here is a before shot:
Here is her hair today:


I have been knitting off and on for about 5 years now. Of course most of my projects have been simple scarves. I like to feel like I can accomplish something. I can accomplish simple scarves. Apparently I can also make hats! I'm so f*&#ing excited about this. Really! Using a pretty simple pattern, 40" circular needles, and the magic loop method I made my first hat last week.

I started it with my friend Jessica and finished it with a group of seasoned knitters.

Here's some pictures:
This is the project before I began the crown. I love this yarn!
Jasper had fun at Grandma Gretchen's. He played with trucks and entertained us. Of course it would have been easier to knit with out him there but if that was a criteria I'd never knit again!

It looks cute on Jasper though it's for Sylvia. Gretchen gave me a groovy button to put on it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

New Bags

Here are the lastest bags I've painted.

Happy Birthday Jasper!

Jasper turns 3 today, November 3rd. We had a birthday party for him yesterday. He had a lot of fun with his friends and opening his presents. The above picure is him sporting is fabulous new shirt and playing with his new colors and coloring book. Thanks to everyone for all the great presents!

I think the kids had a good time too..... what do you think?