Monday, August 31, 2009

Getting Organized: The Household File

Our family "command center" is a small computer desk in a corner of our dining room. It works well, but most of the time it is cluttered high with papers. If something comes in that I need or want to keep but don't know what to do with it, I throw it on the computer desk. It takes about a day for it to get out of control and about 6 months for me to get it organized again. It drives me absolutely nuts!

Last week I read two different posts on two different blogs about creating a "Household Binder" to keep the paper clutter out of control. Inspired, I added a stop to Wal-Mart to my grocery shopping to pick up supplies for the binder. Instead of a binder I purchased an 8 pocket plastic folder (in purple, of course!). Eight pockets sounded like enough room to "organize" all the paperwork I accumulate.

This morning I sorted the papers and voila -- a clean desk!

I can't tell you how excited I am over this simple change. Now I just have to be disciplined to actually put the papers in the file (and dust the desk, apparently) and I'm all set!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I've been checking out "kid" cookbooks from the library lately and looking for some new ideas. I've been toying around with the notion of "sneaking" in vegetable purees to our food. I have several objections to the idea, but we could all use more veggies. I figure even just using pureed veggies and fruit is a good thing. I was surprised that one of the cookbooks uses only "tub margarine" in the recipes -- I have no idea why! All that work sneaking in veggies to use tub margarine?!?!

Anyway, some of the recipes in the veggie book look good even without the purees and I tried out a Lemon Blueberry Muffin this morning sans puree. Yummers! Plus, no mixer needed. It took me 15 minutes to get these together (and it would have taken less time, but I had a HELPER). I mad a few modifications and here is what I came up with.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tablespoons butter, softened (mine was slightly melted)
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 cup lemon yogurt
1 egg
1 cup blueberries
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease muffin pan or use paper liners (I use Wilton Silicone cups). My batch made about 17 muffins.

In a large bowl mix together brown sugar and butter. Add in yogurt, lemon extract, and egg. Stir to combine. Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Put blueberries on top of dry ingredients and mix a bit to coat the berries (keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin). Stir ingredients just until blended -- it should still be lumpy and it is dense.

Fill muffin tin. These don't rise much so fill to top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until tops are brown. I find that muffins with blueberries take a tad longer to get the batter cooked around the berries so I cooked mine for 20 minutes.

I think that you could probably skip the lemon extract if you want and just use the lemon yogurt (or vice versa, but you may need to add some liquid). Mine are really lemon-y, which I like. You could also sub in poppy seeds for the blueberries. There are endless possibilities!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Haircut

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nine Months and Counting!

Our little man is officially NINE MONTHS old! He has been a busy boy lately. He has 6 teeth (3 on top and 3 on bottom so he's a little lopsided) and eats like a champ. I skipped baby food this time around and he happily feeds himself at every meal. He is finally getting the hang of crawling and has managed to get his hands and legs to work together most of the time. Having older siblings with toys with small parts means I spend a lot of time sorting toys to make sure he doesn't eat something he shouldn't! He absolutely loves going anywhere and meeting new people. He has a fit if Daddy leaves without him (which he does every day!). He is also a champion splasher in the pool.

We've rounded the corner towards toddlerhood, for sure... I'm just not sure I'm ready for it yet!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chubby Little Bear

My mom sent my very loved, very tattered, very old Winnie-the-Pooh to me. Ella was just delighted that Mommy had a Pooh bear, too. She insists I bring Pooh with me everywhere she brings hers -- like the grocery store! So far I've managed to "forget" him every time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Princess and the Awkward Mom

This weekend my daughter was invited to a birthday party for a friend. I accepted the invitation despite the fact it would conflict with our normal church attendance because relationships are important (or at least my sister convinced me as such!). The little girl was having a princess tea party so Ella was thrilled to play with all the other princesses (she was Belle). It's really funny how they are all convinced that the other girls are THE ACTUAL princesses! As more people arrived at the party I found myself in an awkward situation: I didn't know anyone except the birthday girl and her mother (who obviously was VERY occupied)!

We know this friend through my women's Bible study so it never occurred to me that 1) we would be the only ones from that group in attendance and 2) that people have OTHER friends outside of the circle in which I am in (DUH!). I'm not exactly a shy person, but I was tired and had been looking forward to the easy chatter amongst friends while our kids played. The other moms at the party were very nice, but I was quite obviously the odd man out. Let's face it -- it's hard to include one other "outsider" when the rest of the entire group knows each other. I think I was just so taken aback that no one I knew was there that I spent the entire party processing!

It was one of those awkward moments (or awkward 2 hours) that I would never have even thought about before having kids.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grilled Pizza

I have spent all summer trying to get around to making pizza on the grill and last week I FINALLY did it! ALL BY MYSELF! I do not use the grill often because up until this summer we had a charcoal grill. But my sister bought us a Home Depot Gift Card, which magically turned in to a gas grill and I am raring to go -- I have a brisket in the fridge right now just waiting to be cooked.

I did not have any of my bread dough in the fridge so I had to improvise. I used Real Mom Kitchen's Fast and Easy Pizza Dough instead. I rolled dough out to about 6-7 inches and lightly greased both sides of the dough. I got all my toppings, sauce, and cheese into bowls, put them on a cookie sheet and headed outside.

I had my hubby pre-heat the grill on high for 15 minutes then I plopped the dough on the grill and close the lid for roughly 2 minutes. They burned so next time I plop them on, cover, and turn down the heat.

I took the pizzas off the grill and put them on the cookie sheet, cooked side up, and covered with sauce, cheese, and toppings. They went back on the grill for about 5 minutes, covered, on low heat. This may have been TOO low as it took the cheese forever to melt (but it was frozen to begin with so you know....).

The pizzas were good. Not great, but good. I want to play around with my usual dough and the heat and time for cooking them. But between my pitas earlier this summer and the pizza -- I'm become a huge fan of bread cooked on the grill!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Trip to the Dentist: Part 2

As I mentioned earlier, my three year old daughter, Ella, had an abscessed tooth that needed to be pulled. I was pleased to have found a wonderful pediatric dentist, but I was still very concerned about the entire procedure. My son had surgery in June and everyone assured us it was easy and it was a nightmare! I was not about to let my guard down with Ella. It did not help that I have never had anything done to my teeth except cleaning. That's right -- early thirties and not even one single cavity. May my children be as lucky! So I have no idea what it's like to be numbed and Novacained!

Out of all three kids, Ella is by far the most independent and strong willed. I should have known that while these traits drive me batty on a daily basis, when it comes to new and unfamiliar area of her life, they are VERY useful traits. Ella did not cry, complain or whine ONCE. Nothing. She marched right in there, singing her heart out, talking away and laughing. They numbed and she flinched a tad. They pulled. She just laid there quietly. And that was it. Done. Well, she did cry once -- when we had to leave. She was busy watching The Little Mermaid on DVD and had no interest in going home.

I'm still getting used to the toothless grin, but it doesn't seem to bother her one bit!

As Summer Winds Down...

My husband "officially" goes back to work this week. He has "unofficially" been working every evening last week. I will definitely miss having him around, but I'm also looking forward to getting back on to a schedule. I do love my schedule! I'm also sad that I'm losing car privileges during the weekdays. We only have one vehicle so it goes to work with hubby. I've been enjoying the freedom of picking up and going whenever I want. We did, however, move closer to work so if the kids are up early enough, I can always drive him up to work and have the car for the day. Right now they aren't getting up early enough, though!

Ella is three now and while we won't be putting her in any formal schooling, I would like to begin some very basic "school" activities with her. I'm hoping to work more on recognizing letters and numbers -- that's it really! I've been perusing various homeschooling curriculum and have everything from very relaxed to very structured 3 year old programs. I really think Ella would love to read soon. She spends hours a day looking at books -- many of them books I'm reading! She is currently enamored with my copy of "Black's Law Dictionary"!

My sister has enrolled Ella in a 6 week T-ball program, which I'm thrilled about! And I'm getting her involved with AWANA this year. I'm trying really hard to balance NOT over scheduling, while still wanting Ella to get out of the house. Without the car during the day, evenings are our best opportunity to GO!

I should also be blogging more now that summer is over. Miles, however, is up and crawling so we'll see how much extra time I have to spend chasing him down!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Trip to the Farm

For the past four years, I have lamented the lack of good, locally grown produce in Las Vegas. The local "Farmers Markets" are full of cooked food vendors and crafts with maybe one farmer whose price are sky high. We don't have any CSA's in town. It is sad, sad, sad.

We recently moved and the name of our new street is the same as a local "orchard". I vaguely recall reading an article or something on the orchard when we first moved to town, but never investigated any further. Until today and what a wonderful, wonderful place it is! The best part is that it is a mere 5 minute drive from our home!

Gilcrease Orchard is a local farm open three half-days a week. It is pick your own and prices run about $1.00/pound. It is the most beautiful this local-produce craving Mama has ever seen. We bought the largest zucchini and cucumbers I have ever seen in my life. We also picked tomatoes, eggplant, and pears. I don't know why it took me so long to get there, but I plan to go back as often as I need fresh veggies and fruit.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Trip to the Dentist

Last summer on our way to Michigan for a visit, Ella tripped in the Memphis airport and chipped her front tooth. I've been keeping my eye on it ever since. About a month or so ago I noticed the gum above it was filled with fluid and my husband guessed the tooth was abscessed. I put off going to the dentist mostly because we don't have dental insurance and I hate pulling money out of our emergency fund -- even though this is exactly why we have the fund. But after a month of gums swelling, it was time to go.

I have to say that we found the best pediatric dentist in the world! The office is pink and purple and the staff all wear tee shirts. They have Disney movies playing where the kids can watch them while being worked on. Ella had her nails polished while waiting! It was amazing and the prices were reasonable (they gave us a decent cash discount).

Unfortunately, the tooth has to come out. Did I mention it is her RIGHT FRONT TOOTH!! She will have a gap until the adult tooth grows in somewhere between 6 and 9 years old. I don't even have any cavities so I have no idea what to expect from the procedure (even though they walked me through it and assured me it will be tougher on me than her). I hate putting my kids through something like this (Miles' surgery in June was an utter nightmare for me thanks to his bad reaction to the anesthesia), but if left in the infection in the tooth will most likely spread to other parts of her body. I'm doing my best to prepare her, but there is only so much I can say. Thankfully, her strong will and independence make her one tough nut so I'm sure she'll make it through just fine. If only I could say the same about me!

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