Monday, March 29, 2010

Counting my blessings

I've been trying to have this attitude lately.

I love this song (and this movie).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Easter Nests

The first time I remember eating one of these was on a visit to my Great Grandmother's house. I must have been about eight and I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. This is the first time I've made them myself, but if I had realized how easy it was I would have tried it a long time ago.
Just a few simple ingredients: Fiber One bran cereal (or similar branch-like shaped cereal), butter, marshmallows, non-stick spray and Cadbury Mini-Eggs.

Melt 3 TBS butter over low heat, then add 5 cups mini-marshmallows and stir until completely melted. You could also add some chocolate chips at this point if you the kids might be put off by the bran flavor.

Remove the pan from heat and slowly add 6 cups cereal. Stir until well coated. Spray your muffin pan with non-stick spray, then fill each cup with the mixture (it may help to spray your hands as well.

Next, use your fingers to push out the middle and create the nest shape (it's a little hard to see in this photo).

Then, just add a couple eggs to each one and you're done!

My taste-tester says these are delicious. We're taking them to her friends tomorrow, so we'll see what the others think.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Girl's Day

David was still filling pretty under the weather Saturday, so Ava and I decided to have a Girl's Day and do all our favorite things. But when we went outside we had a bit of a surprise. After a week of 60 degree, sunny days, this is what greeted us Saturday morning.

We braved the snow anyway and made our way to our first stop. A library book sale (of course). The books were a little more than usual ($2 for a hardcover, $1 for a paperback), but the selection was really good.
 Then we grabbed lunch and headed to our next stop.
Our first ballet! A performance of Cinderella by the West Michigan Youth Ballet. It was incredible, especially since the performers were all between the ages of 6 and 18.

Ava loved it. Obviously.
After the ballet, we stopped in at our favorite toy store (this stop was all Ava's idea, but it was girls' day so we went for it), where we found a couple new books.
The Color Kittens was one of my favorites when I was little, but I had completely forgotten about it until I spotted it on the shelf. Note that Golden Books now labels it "classic" -- ouch. What I didn't know was that it was written by Margaret Wise Brown, who also wrote Goodnight Moon.

Then, to make a good day even better, when we got home these were waiting for us.

Then, we did manicures before bed (with a sparkle polish top coat).
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a box of Thin Mints waiting for me in the freezer.

Book Review: Alexander and the Dragon

Alexander and the Dragon is about a little boy who is afraid of the dark because when the lights go off, he begins to imagine the things in his room are terrible things.

Most terrifyingly, a shadow right under his bed that he thinks must be a dragon. His father tells him there are only two ways to deal with a dragon: scare it away or make friends with it.
So, Alexander bravely confronts the dragon.

I won't give away the ending, other than to say that Alexander no longer needs a nightlight.

I remember this book from when I was a kid, and it's one of the ones Ava wants us to read over and over. What I didn't realize until recently is that the author, Katharine Holabird, also wrote all the Angelina Ballerina books (also favorites in our house). A Chicago native, Holabird summered in Michigan as a child. About her childhood, Holabird reportedly said, "TV hadn't become a fixture in every home, and we created our own imaginative world." Hmmm, something to think about

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ups and downs

Ava has been fighting a nasty cold virus this week. David and I have taken turns staying home with her and Wednesday was my day. After waking up in the middle of the night because of a coughing fit that ended in throwing up (and a visit to the doctor resulted in an eye infection diagnosis in addition to her cold), I thought she could use some sunshine, fresh air, and a little fun.

I couldn't believe how fearless she was, she climbed up the ladders, slid down the biggest slides, and even climbed the big kids' rock wall. It really hit me at how big she's gotten, seemingly overnight. Didn't she just learn to walk?

But, I think we may have overdone it a bit, because after a short nap she had a meltdown. Sobbing huge elephant tears because Daddy wasn't home to help her put Darbie's clothes on (despite the fact that I had offered to help).
This was so unlike my usually easygoing little one, I had to take a picture. Which set off a whole new batch of tears. "Don't take my picture, I'm crying."

In other news, I think Ava's watching too much TV. How do I know? This was the conversation her dolls were having yesterday:
"Are we clear?"
"Claritin clear."

I just have to get David on board with this ban, as he's as big a TV fan as Ava. I don't want to give up movies, though, because I am totally addicted to watching Masterpiece theater online.We watched 39 Steps last night and it was so good. (David hooked up the computer to the TV with so we can watch it on the bigger screen.)

The film is based on the book of the same name by Scottish author John Buchan, who, honestly, I've never heard of. But, I'm really interested in reading the book now and there are apparently four others in the series.

Now that Ava is feeling better, David has caught her cold. He stayed home today and she went back to school, but she was doing everything she could to convince us to let her stay home and watch cartoons (see, she's addicted!). When she and I were finally in the car on the way to school, she looks over at the car next to us and says, "Her little girl isn't in her car. Her little girl is home with her daddy." And sticks out a little pouty lip. She's 3.5 and she's already trying to guilt me...I'm dreading the teenager years...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bad day, good dinner

After a windy, rainy, cold weened, today was beautiful, sunny and nearly 60 degrees. Unfortunately, I was cooped up at work with no windows and it was a really, really long day. One of those days when nothing is easy or seems to work out right. So, when we got home, Ava and I decided to try a new quick and easy recipe.

We tried this Gimme Some Oven recipe for gnocchi with asparagus and pesto. I'm not a big seafood fan, so we used organic chicken and apple sausage instead. It was so delicious. It took about 15 minutes to make and tastes like something that cooked all day.
 After dinner, we decided we deserved a little treat. (update: Ava calls these Orioles)

Bubbles, books and broken eggs

This weekend, my sister brought her boys (the cousin brothers) to visit. We planned to hit some thrift stores and fabric stores, but the kids were too worked up to safely enter a store with anything breakable.

We did manage to make it to this weekend's library booksale. We got there during the last hour, when they charge $1 per bag. So, we did the Supermarket Sweep version of book shopping and shove anything that looked interesting into a grocery bag while trying to wrangle three little ones (two of which had just been cooped up in the car for three hours).

The weather was rainy and a little chilly, but we did manage to make it outside for a little while to blow bubbles and draw on the sidewalk.

When the wind got too chilly, we went inside to plant egg herb gardens based on Darby's. We planted basil, rosemary and cilantro. Connor is eight and I think he was the only one that actually kept all the same seeds in a single egg. Ava and Jamie were a bit more free spirited.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Mom, look how pretty I look"

On an innocent trip to the bathroom, someone thought she would try mascara.

We had a nice long talk about not using makeup (or anything in the bathroom) without permission.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review: Prodigal Summer

I'm a little late on the Barbara Kingsolver bandwagon. I'd never read anything of her's before, but I saw this one at the library booksale and decided to pick it up. I am so glad I did. Let me just tell you that I read this entire 444 pager in one day. One. I could not put it down.

The book jacket says Prodigal Summer is about human love, but I disagree. I would say that, at it's heart, Prodigal Summer is a book about family in its many forms. It's set in southern Appalachia and Kingsolver's descriptions of the setting are magical. But even better are her characters. Each one was so well-crafted I found myself thinking about them days later (the sign of a good character, I think).

Prodigal Summer centers around Deanna Wolfe, a wildlife biologist who identifies with coyotes more than she does with people; Lusa Maluf Landowski, a scientist who marries a farmer and moves to the country only to feel like an outsider among her in-laws; and Garnett Walker, an old man convinced his neighbor is God's test for him. Through these three interconnected lives, we see how families are created and destroyed, how widely encompassing they can be -- beyond genetics, beyond species -- and, overall, how just how important they are.

On top of all of this are Kingsolver's rich descriptions of the flora and fauna in Zebulon County, a sign of her biologist roots, but done so seamlessly that it lends a richer layer to the tapestry of the story rather than distracting from it.

This is the book's first sentence: "Her body moved with the frankness that comes from solitary habits. But solitude is only a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot; every choice is a world made new for the chosen. All secrets are witnessed."

It gives me shivers. This is the kind of writing that inspires me to run for my comupter keyboard and just write and write with the hope that I can come up with something a fraction of this good. I can't wait to read more from Barbara Kingsolver. This is why I like discovering writers after they've been around for a while, she's already written lots more novels for me to read ; )

Sunday, March 7, 2010


What a weekend! It was 50 degrees and sunny. And, best of all, it smelled like Spring! I opened all my windows and let the fresh air in Sunday afternoon. It feels like Spring is just around the corner and I am so ready for it.

So, in the spirit of Spring, we scrubbed and repaired and organized. We even Spring cleaned the car Saturday with a car wash and oil change : ). Afterwards, we went to the thrift store, paint store, the market, and about a million other places running errands and working on Ava's big girl room. We had lunch Founder's Brewing Co. I'd never been before, but I'd heard good things and it lived up to the hype. Mmmmm, BLT and pale ale. And, we got to go to a library book sale (one of my favorite things) to stock up for reading month.

We also just got Ava's costume for her dance recital. She has begged to wear it almost every day since we got it, so I think this one will live on in her dress up trunk. After I took this photo I realized those things on her legs go on her arms. Oops.

After lots of thought, and anxiety, and research, I think I have landing on the right direction for Ava's room. I want it to be reflective of her (very girly and outgoing) personality, but also be a calming environment that can grow with her.
 The paint color is a soft bluey grey from Benjamin Moore called Glass Slipper (perfect name for a princess!). I also found a lot of incredible artwork for the room (from Kiki and Polly, Erin Tyner, Anna Bond ). The butterflies I bought are from Meijer Gardens butterfly show.

For the windows, I'm thinking the Moda orange floral for roman shades with the natural linen as drapes with grosgrain ribbon trim that will match the shade. The problem with this plan is that I have wide windows. Wider than the fabric already, before hemming. I think I have a possible solution, but I'm going to have to play around with it a little. More on that later.

I'm looking for a vintage bed that looks like this Ethan Allen one. I know I've seen them on Craigslist, but now that I'm looking for one they are, of course, no where to be found. 

I'm thinking the Amy Butler sunspots fabric to reupholster a chair and ottoman that will sit next to the dollhouse bookcase my dad built.

Unfortunately, the weekend flew by and now it's back to work.

March is reading month!

I come from a family of readers and I think nothing beats curling up in a cozy, sunny nook with a cup of coffee and a good book. My husband...not so much. So, I'm trying to nuture Ava's love of reading by reading to her and by showing her how much I enjoy reading.

Her daycare has a contest every March where the parents keep track of the books they read to their child and the room with the most books read has a party at the end of the month, which I love. So we're reading up a storm this month. Right now we're reading The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L Konigsburg. It's a chapter book, one of my favorites as a child. As I mentioned a while back, I think reading chapter books to younger children is a great way to encourage their imaginations (and maybe even increase their attention spans). Sarah Jane just posted about this a little while ago with a list of chapter books I can't wait to search for at the next library book sale.

And, in honor of Reading Month, I'm going to post reviews and recommendations on what we're reading lately all month!