Monday, January 31, 2011

Some mighty fine biscuits

Saturday we decided that in the last few months there hasn't been near enough panning for gold (we do live in CA), playing tug-o-war or period dressing in our lives so we headed out to the Old Town San Diego 8th Annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration Parade.

We were excited to go. We love the Mormon Battalion Museum in Old Town (we've been there twice since we moved here and are planning two more trips with family* and friends in the next few weeks). They've just redone it and it's straight out of the Harry Potter movies. The pictures talk to you and you move from room to room and from activity to activity and learn all about early California settlers and the Mormon Battalion.

Even thought we've become walking billboards for the Mormon Battalion Museum we were still unprepared for the glory that was the parade and commemoration. Dang. There were cannons being fired, there were all kinds of free activities, there were kids parading around the town square, there were kids making their own dolls out of scraps of fabric. There were so. many. kids. That's one thing about any activity that has to do with the Mormons. They like kids (Jesus did too so there's no problem there).

Here is a picture of some of those kids standing outside the panning for (fool's) gold booth. I've had wild success panning for gold at the museum and was bragging a little bit about my prowess when one of 60 year-old volunteers, in an attempt to keep me honest said, "well, we keep it pretty well stocked." Those kids are working on a map. You had to get stickers at each booth and if you got all the stickers you got a prize.
This is the most darling little family. They were providing the music.

Look at this darling family. Dang. The hubbs is such a catch.

This lady was maybe my favorite of the whole day. She was a volunteer and she made that dress! Don't you love her and those hipster glasses? She was handing out biscuits-on-a-stick which you had to cook yourself over coals (or talk your hubbs into doing it). All in all a great way to spend a Saturday.

*My parents are visiting right now. I love having them here. I think it's good for your soul to be spoiled every now and then and my parents wrote the book when it comes to spoiling. There are trips planned to the botanical garden, the ocean, our favorite Mexican restaurant and there's lots of candy involved. When we went to Target today we bought 5 bags. There are only 4 adults here.

I like those odds

Saturday, January 29, 2011


The hubbs and I are speaking in our religious congregation tomorrow. On parenting. That's right, the people who had to take their baby to the doctor after she took a spill from the bathroom counter yesterday and who also had their baby wake up from a nap earlier this week with this scratch spanning her whole cheek because we hate cutting her fingernails are speaking to a room full of families about parenting. Nice.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This I Believe

I've been working on a project for work (I do a little marketing work from home to help make ends meet and yes, I am accepting new clients. Thanks for asking.) and one of the projects that I'm working on is taking an idea from NPR and tweeking it a little. Do you ever read This I Believe? It's a lovely community project inspired by a radio show from the 195o's where people from all over write a 500 word essay on what they believe. Some of the people are incredibly famous and some are just your average joe's and the things they believe are sometimes baffling and amazing and inspiring all at the same time.

Researching for this project I read a couple of the essays today and I loved this one, and this one and best of all this one.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vegetables Anyone?

I'm one of those people who could literally put down an entire bag of reese peanut butter cups or plain M&Ms or tootsie rolls or really any other form of candy/baked goods in one sitting. Not joking. I really could and about once a week I have exert considerable restraint to prevent myself from doing it. Consequently vegetables and exercise have to play a pretty serious role in my life. The hubbs however, is a pretty picky eater and isn't a huge fan of veggies. Things he will not eat include; broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, corn, beans, tofu, or any type of sauce among others.

Normally I try to make things that the hubbs will eat but when guests come over the food rules go out the door. For our wedding the hubbs, in a HUGE leap of faith, gave me Cooks Illustrated: The Best Vegetable Recipes and I haven't had a chance to use it as often as I would like.

Have you tried these books? I am in love with them. I also have the original version of the book and the light version. These books are like the consumer reports of cooking. They tell you all the best brands, all the best ways to do things (did you know that carrot cake is made 1 million times more delicious if you put the oil and eggs in a food processor and make an emulsion before you mix it?) and the best ingredients.

So this week when a couple of friends were coming over for dinner I busted out the vegetable book and whipped up the Confetti Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing (I had never made a cabbage anything before). Our guests, who were college-age students, declared it a success (that could be seen as an impressive recommendation because college kids don't like vegetables but it could also be questionable because I was offering free food. The hubbs declared it "gross because it had vinegar in it.")

Confetti Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
Modified From The Best Vegetable Recipes

1 lb green or red cabbage shredded
1 large carrot peeled and grated
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
2 med cloves garlic
1 1/2 in piece of fresh ginger peeled and finely grated
2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 med radishes grated
4 med scallions sliced thin
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts

1. toss cabbage and carrots in 1 tsp salt and place in a colander. Let stand until wilted (at least one hour--I mean..did you know that? That you have to wilt cabbage? I didn't). Rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Place PB, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, water, ginger and pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth. Toss dressing with cabbage mixture, radishes, peanuts and 3/4 of scallions. Start using 1/2 of dressing and continue to add dressing to taste (we only used half and it was plenty strong).
3.Garnish with sesame seeds and remaining scallions

The salad was really similar to one I had at this restaurant a couple of weeks ago and would have been even more delicious with some chicken and some fried little noodles (Do you like that? Fried noodles and peanut butter in a salad? Maybe I should start a new blog called "things a chubby girl thinks.")

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In 9+ Months

We went to the doctor today for a healthy child visit.

Weight 24.61% (17lb 13oz)
Height 90.77% (29.25 inches)
Head Circumference 95.43%

The hubbs' exact words were, "Just think if her head was normal size; what would her weight be then?"

Other accomplishments:
Pulling up on every piece of furniture we have
Scooting from one piece of furniture to another
Carefully sitting down from standing
Placing her head on every piece of furniture to balance herself while she reaches down with both hands to picks up toys she has thrown on the floor
Shakes her head and understands that it means, "no"
A huge helper with laundry

Incredible fort builder (that's her head and arm you can make out under the blanket on the left hand side)
Great morning lounger

Monday, January 24, 2011

Maybe I am rubbing it in

If you have to move away from your family and friends and the only job you have is taking care of another human being which makes it hard to make friends at least you should move to a place where January looks a little like this. My mom and dad will be here on Saturday. I can hardly wait.

Those of you who have expressed interest in the e-book-club will be receiving more info today. We're starting out with The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and The Composer is Dead.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A missed appointment

We tried to go and visit a friend who was in town playing in a rugby match but fate was not on our side. We drove in, paid to park the car, walked to the field and realized the the tournament had ended. We were sorry to miss our friend but we decided to take advantage of the time out to take a family trip to Coronado. A couple of photos.
The darling hubbs pushing the stroller AND carrying the diaper bag. I get lots of compliments on that bag (thanks Mom) and every time the hubbs wears it he gets mocked by other men. Go figure.
Coronado is so lovely. We've decided that when we're rich we're going to move there (I don't know if that's before or after we buy a Chihuly but if you come to visit us and we live in Coronado and we own a Chihuly you'll know we've arrived). Maybe we'll live in this house. Yes, that is a full-grown-fruit-bearing orange tree on the side.

Of course living in Coronado would have some tricky parts--lots of buggie bike tourists.

And lots of tricked out quincanera parties (there were three in the park. I couldn't decide if I should snap the photo of the party all wearing electric blue and cowboy hats or the hot pink and fedoras. I went hot pink).

But as long as we've got this little face looking up at us we're pretty sure we can put up with all of that.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Child Labor

Friday night we hosted baby-sitting co-op at our house. Baby-sitting co-op is brilliant and if any of you are thinking of starting one I highly recommend it. I joined one that was already formed but if anyone wants advice I'm happy to give it. For those of you who don't have kids and consequently have disposable time and income, baby-sitting co-op is where you open up your home to kids from the co-op once or twice a month in exchange for the ability to drop your kids off at other homes when the need arises. It means that you don't have to pay for a baby-sitter on date night or if you have a doctors appointment. Love. It.

Knowing that there were going to be a few extra sets of hands at my house Friday night I decided to put them to good use and have them make my Valentines decorations. In exchange, I let them take some decorations home and fed them all the homemade pizza and popcorn their little bodies could hold.

Here's a pic of us getting to work at the beginning of the evening. The kids are painting wax paper with glue and then putting small pieces of different colored tissue paper on it.

While our papers were drying we had pizza. I've been experimenting with whole-wheat flour and used this recipe. Yeast normally terrifies me and even seeing the word "proofing" in a recipe is usually enough to make me turn the other way and run but this was really simple and very good. I did one batch as written and the other batch with all whole-wheat flour (that being said, you probably don't need to make two batches even if 3 little people tell you that they each eat 3 pieces of pizza and they are very hungry. Rest assured; they are lying and if you make two huge pizzas you will have LOTS left over and will eat pizza for every meal the next day). I actually preferred it with all whole-wheat flour.

After pizza the hubbs helped the kids make a fort so they could watch movies (let's see how many times we can publicly thank netflix on this blog) and I made popcorn for the masses and cut hearts out of our papers. Today I put the hearts to good use. Here they are taped to the window that gets lots of late afternoon sun and they spread colored light all over the dining and living room.

I've been swooning over this little number from Pottery Barn Kids. There's a huge mall just across the street from where we live and we like to go walking there on long afternoons and window shop. I love this. The price however, is somewhat prohibitive.

If I were a patient person I'm sure I could make something that looked like it. However, I am not a patient person so I just wanted to make something that reminded me of it. The pictures of the mobile turned out terrible so I tried downloading an app that would photoshop them for me (I already warned you that I'm no photographer). A little better but still not as darling as the actual mobile is.

This is made by bending a hanger into a circle, covering it with ribbon and getting to work with my hearts, some thread and the hot glue gun. I hung it over the dining table because we don't have a chandelier. This may be a decoration that stays up all year (the hubbs loves it when I do that...just ask him about the monster pillow I crocheted that has never been put away).

The hearts are so lovely. If I could have made those little hands work any faster I would of. I could use at least 100 more of them. I'd put them all over the windows, mirrors and hang them in front of the sliding doors that lead to our porch. Anyone want to send their kids over? (Why yes, I am currently accepting nominations for babysitter of the year.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Poverty Toys

At our house we're living off of one salary and still trying to put money away for retirement. That means we don't eat out very often at and sometimes the hubbs has to drink my skim milk if his 2% is gone and the budget for the month is already spent.

However, the situation is not quite as dire as those who come to our house might think. Claire has real toys, lots of them. She has a very generous grandma and I have no qualms about shopping craiglist and thrift stores.

Our efforts are often wasted.

A couple of shots of Claire playing with some of her favorite "toys." AKA "poverty toys."

Here she is chewing on a sample-size bottle of aquaphor. In front of her you can also see the toothbrush and hair pick she's playing with.

Her favorite toy might be the mason jar rings I placed on a plastic link.

And the ever-classy chewing-on-her-own-dirty-sock.

That's my girl.

You can just call me, "mom of the year."

Today is the day!

The actual truth is that yesterday was the day but yesterday also happened to be the day when Claire cried for 2 hours after I put her down and I was a little too frazzled to do anything other than watch SVU (thanks Netflix). And did her staying up two hours past her bedtime mean she slept in? Not on your life. Actually got up early.

But when you make such monumental progress in a day it's sometimes hard to sleep.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Rubbing!

Claire and I had a busy day planned. After a trip to the gym we had a beach date this morning with two of our favorite families. This afternoon two of our friends were going to come over to make homemade play-doh and Valentines while their mom went to a doctor's appointment.

Sadly, those lovely dreams did not come true because Claire woke up with a case of pink eye. Hurrah! We've been to the doctor and she's already had her first set of eye drops. So instead of sunning on the beach and showing off our domestic goddess skills we're having a slow day at home catching up on laundry and after she wakes up from her nap we'll walk over to the library to pick up the books we have on hold. Now before moms and librarians alike start mentally composing hate-mail I should say that I know the library is not a good place for sick children. We're just picking up books that we have on hold (which they keep next to the front door. Really, we won't touch anything and Claire will stay in her stroller the whole time).

Claire's Reading List.
We're picking up this book (and CD) for Claire which comes highly recommended by two of her aunties*. We are always looking for good reading material for Claire and if you have any suggestions please please send them our way.

My Reading List.
I wasn't kidding when I said that I was trying to make it through 30 years of Pulitzer Prize winners. I'm at least half way through the list (which I am reading in no particular order) and this little gem is waiting for me at the Library.

I'm also picking up this book.

By the same woman who wrote The Glass Castle which I loved. If any of you are looking for a book to reinforce the normalcy of your parents you should pick it up. I don't care what kind of parents you had. This book will make them look normal. Half Broke Horses is a book that my old book club is reading. When we moved I left behind a book club that I loved. Lovely girls who read books that are challenging and made me think. Even though I can't attend discussion night I try to keep up with the reading and I'm always happy when I do.

Those of you who like reading challenging books should pick up one of these and we can read them at the same time. Then we can email each other all of our thoughtful insights! An e-bookclub of smart thoughtful people who read challenging books. As Liz Lemon would say, "I want to go to that place."

The good news is that even if none of you want to do that I will pretend that you do. I'll make up wonderful things that imaginary readers would say. "Jen from Milwaukee said, 'this book changed the way I think! Life will never be the same.'"

I am returning this book to the Library.

I really liked it. The book centers around a polio outbreak on the east coast in the late 30's (maybe it was early 40's hard to remember now). I found myself wiki-ing polio and reading all I could about it. I also called my mom and talked to her about her memories of what polio was like. It was nice to talk to my mother about something that influenced her childhood that had absolutely no bearing on mine (maybe it will be like me telling Claire all about my memories of VCRs when she gets a little older).

*aunties are any number of women who love Claire because they love me. They consist of college roommates and old and new friends alike. They are the kind of women who would take care of Claire and take the time to let her know what her mother was like if anything happened to me. So, of course, we take it very seriously when they make reading suggestions.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday Dinner

Last night a couple of friends came over for dinner--6 adults and 4 kids.

The menu was a little eclectic. Orange-Almond Chicken (from this cookbook which we were given for our wedding and I love. Simple, quick recipes), whole-wheat pasta with pesto and a green salad. One of the families who came asked if they could bring sweet potatoes with apples and the other called to see if they could bring homemade bread and cookies. Why yes...yes you can. Here is a picture of the table after we'd eaten. The Chex and sippy cups weren't actually part of dinner but little hands almost never say no to a Chex after-dinner snack.

After dinner husbands and wives seemed to congregate in different areas and we talked for a long time. A highlight of the evening was when one of the mom's asked about Claire. I said, "oh. She's going through one of those phases where she isn't really eating."

I swear you could hear crickets chirping. After a long pause someone said, "like she's just drinking formula* because she's not interested in solid food?"

"No," I said "like she's just not eating."

Crickets again people. Crickets. Finally one of the dads said, "Yeah. Our baby never did that."

Claire seems to be well adjusted and happy so I'm not going to dwell on it too much.

This morning as I finished washing the dishes (yes, I didn't finish cleaning up until this morning. Feel free to judge) Claire was playing on the ottoman. The slanted light coming through the living room was so lovely and her cheerful singing was such a nice sound that I had to take a picture. It turned out a little grainy. She is wearing my favorite pajamas (from here). When I first got them I didn't think they fit because they were so hard to put on the feet. The tag, however, explained that this is on purpose and is to either help them not suffocate or not catch on fire. I don't remember which. I love these pajamas because they really show off her physique. Skinny arms and legs; big tummy. Takes after her mom.

*Yes I feed my baby formula. I know that nursing is better and I'm sure that I'll have to pay for counseling or something at some point but really, if I were a dairy cow I would have been slaughtered.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

With Tongue

We caught this video last night. Since then she has also attacked the walls, the windows and some old bricks.

If this is any indicator of what life will be like when she is a teenager we're in trouble.