Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This is the way we wash our clothes...

"We're going to redo our kitchen." Yup, saved the best for last. Really, we've done something to about every inch of this house...including the kitchen floor...but what was really needed from the beginning (9 YEARS ago-gasp!) was a new kitchen sink! So Monday we started building a new laundry room.

What? Well, our laundry room is off the kitchen--through the half bathroom--and my lovely friend Kathy happened to remark that the only space we have to make the kitchen larger (w/o moving the entire back wall of the house) is into the laundry room. Ah-ha! This cramped, tiny little room has been a workhorse and could be much worse...but it will be even better as a walk-in pantry/utility room!

So Eric and I had been wanting to peer into the attic space along the upstairs hallway that connects the master bedroom and Elena's room to see what we had back there. He cut a lovely chunk of drywall out:

And this is what we saw...perfect! Well, almost...there are some tricky spots, but it will work!

Travis, Eric's brother offered to come help this Monday...and believe me, you don't turn that man down on an offer of help...he knows what he's doing and works hard! That's him standing in our hallway that is about to have a huge hole cut into it.

He brought the whole family, so me and the kids got to play with all four of their girlies and my sis-in-law Kim for the day!

Time for snacks in the jump-o-line!

Yup, that's a hole.

Kai got to help move up the subfloor. He got those worker gloves with his tool set for Christmas...he's so excited. Let me find a picture real quick.

He's so stinkin' cute!

So, the guys got the subfloor in after spending HOURS rerouting electrical wire then the roof support wall framed. The wiring job was wild. Evidently our builder just strung things this way and that...and all of it was right across this area.

Yesterday, before disc golf of course, Eric framed up the entryway which will eventually have double beveled hinged doors. The washer and dryer will sit right behind the doors with just enough room for access to the left and right for storage, a loooong counter or folding table and maybe a craft nook for me (if I can squeeze it in).

And last night I got to help put in insulation along the roof. Wow, that makes it sound easy.

So there she waits...framing the ceiling is up next, then he'll start hanging drywall and we'll get a plumber in to move the water lines and drain.

I mean, really, who wants to just sit around during Christmas break? May as well start a huge project that will lead to another huge-er project! Just wouldn't be our home without it!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

O Christmas Tree

Overflowing with ornaments, both old and new, our Christmas tree is one of our favorite traditions and decorations for the season. No, we don't cut ours down from a nearby field or even pick it up from a local tree lot...I keep it nice and cozy wrapped in an old comforter in the attic for 11 months of the year.

It's tall and thin...a good thing when you consider how much furniture occupies our living room...and came from another home in our city, recycled at a garage sale (shocking, I know). It only leans a little so a couple magazines under the base help set it straight.

As a child, I received one special ornament each year. My mom kept all of them until I had my own apartment in college and since then they have been a part of my own traditions...adding a new one each year for first me and Becca, my roomie, then Eric, and now for all three kiddos too.

Origins and meaning of the Christmas tree tradition are varied, but at our home, we talk about it as the evergreen being a symbol of the everlasting life we have in Jesus and the gifts beneath the boughs representing the gift that eternal life is...found only through the Christ child whose birth is the true meaning of the season! Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Morning After

A "late" night for the kiddos as we went bowling with some of our favorite friends, the Comos, and Zane is finally not grouchy this morning since I plopped him in front of Elmo's World playing the hair episode. Oh, yes, hair. Typically, I'm not one to stay up much past midnight. Last night, however, I crawled in bed at 2:30 a.m. after my latest hair adventure.

As my *gasp* roots started to show up again the last few weeks, I decided the drastic contrast of radiant red to honey brown needed to be tempered a bit. I'm really not one to color my hair every 6 weeks and that's what's been going on. Maybe if I was going for a relaxing day at the salon I'd be game...but smearing my head with mud for hours on end? No. Thank You.

So I did a bit more digging on my favorite henna website and found out I could add a plant called buxus to henna to make it browner. I can't make my hair lighter with plant dyes, but browner, yes. I ordered a supply and last night tried out a 1/2 and 1/2 mix of henna and buxus going for a nice, rich cinnamon. It was actually an enjoyable experience this time as my dolly friend, Molly, who just happens to be a fabulous hair stylist, came to help and see what in the world I've been doing with this natural stuff! We smeared and smooshed, this time in an orderly fashion (see this post for my crazy first try), and had my head wrapped up in less than an hour. After 2 1/2 hours I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed and washed and rinsed some more. Then started to dry it and had to go rinse more. (Rinsed starts to be a weird word if you use it enough times in a sentence.) This morning? Whaa-la:

Okay, so it doesn't look that different--yet. Once again I have about 4 days for the color to oxidize and darken, so it will probably be really brown by Monday. Certainly it is less coppery and feels so nice and silky...the down side is the lovely earthy smell...kind of like old tea leaves...that will linger for a couple weeks. I suppose I could borrow some of Elena's perfume?

Enough about's another Kai funny. Yesterday we were folding towels together and just being kind of quiet (amazing!) and he softly says "fart me". I know what that means, so I stay quiet and don't say anything. Sure enough, he goes on to explain in his very matter-of-fact-way: "Mom, when I fart, I say "fart me" instead of "excuse me" so then you know it's a fart, not a burp". "Thank you, dear" is all I can say.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Funny Boy

Kai is a bit of a born comedian. He'll do or say about anything for a laugh. It's a God-given gift as neither Eric nor I are very funny...we have to get around Eric's Mom and Chuck to get the giggles as they laugh all the time.

Anyway, the kids and I were just telling the cow jokes on the side of our yogurt cups this morning and I remembered something from last month. I was wanting the kids to try out 4H for a potential "club" type thing for them to do together so we went to one meeting. When they did the roll-call, each person had to tell their favorite animal. Most were normal favorites--dog, cat, horse, bunny etc.

"Kai Eastwood?"

Loud and clear he answers: "PLATYPUS!"

Lots of snickers and he sits back with a satisfied smirk on his cute face.

Certainly this answer was from too much exposure to Phineas and Ferb (our favorite cartoon), but clever none-the-less.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meal Plan Monday...on Tuesday

So I've been using Plan to Eat the last few months for the task that ranks way up at the top of my dreaded household responsibilities: planning meals, shopping and cooking. Ugh! It's been a bit of work getting it all set up. Actually they even list my stats on my account page:

Since I signed up on September 15 (here's how I decided to try it out) I have:
  • Spent 6.8 hours using Plan to Eat
  • Added 102 recipes to my recipe book
  • Meal planned 256 recipes and items
Most of that 6.8 hours was spent adding recipes and figuring out efficient ways to group items for meals. Today was the first day I feel like it really is getting to be a great tool at our house. I had a 20 minute window to get a grocery list ready for the next 7 days. In 15 minutes I had planned out--meaning put recipes on a calendar, printed a grocery list with every item (less those already in my kitchen) and printed a dated menu to post--breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack for the whole week~including a couple special items for a family Christmas dinner. Fabulous! Do you know how long that used to take?? Seriously, like 2-3 hours between interruptions!

Elena really loves the posted menu! She no longer whines around wondering what she should have for snack...just looks at the menu and pulls it out. No more *hard* decisions, phew!

The recipes not already in my PTE cookbook I imported from a website, taking about 30 seconds each (in this case from Taste of Home), including the picture. Each ingredient on the recipes I add to my planner go straight to my shopping list. The grocery list was sorted by aisle with little check boxes next to each item~love~! So after my lunch date I spent about an hour at Price Chopper breezing through the isles (well, kind of...I didn't have any children with me so it's all relative) and spent a measly $150 and some change. I'm not buying "just in case" items or guessing at what I need for snacks anymore, saving the moo-lah. Nice.

I've started a binder with all my PTE recipes, each in it's own page protector, that I'm planning on making my main cookbook. No more digging through multiple books and magazines every night--whoo-hoo! I added some tabbed dividers so I can file the recipes in the same manner as I keep them online, in ABC order of course. Right now I have to print them as I'm ready to use them...I probably just need to print as I add them...hmmm. Anyway, it's then simple to look at the posted menu, flip to the right section of the binder and pull the desired recipes out. The page protector keeps them clean and I set them up in my kitchen window while I cook.

Once I get really in the groove, I'm going to go back and add the approximate cost of each recipe. This, in turn, will give me an estimate for my grocery shopping as I add items to the list. Wow. That may actually be too much control-freak for even me!

So if you're still running around like a chicken with her head cut off every night for supper (or maybe breakfast and snack time too, like me), you might click over and give Plan to Eat a try with their free 30-day trial. It is a bit of time and work to get it going just your way, but way worth it in my opinion! Happy Homemaking!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Food Fun!

We've just been having a ball in the kitchen this holiday season! Besides all the gingerbread mania, we got crafty for Thanksgiving making Turkey Day Dinner cupcakes and Mr. Potato Turkeys.

Elena is hard at work adding melted chocolate "gravy" over the slices of turkey. Each cupcake plate included green peas, mashed potatoes with melted butter (not fried eggs, thank you very much), and some cranberry sauce on the side. The recipe was on Family Fun's website...I just love their ideas! So much that I just subscribed for another year of their magazine. Too cute

These are my cutie-patootie nieces posing with their Mr. Potato Turkeys...another Family Fun idea. They were potatoes with onion wings, pepper feathers and carrot beaks with cashew waddles. Cute, cute, cute (the turkeys too!).

Then today we were at it again...this time with mini-gingerbread houses for teacher gifts and reindeer cookies for the kids' Cookies and Carols event tomorrow.

Elena and Kai are really starting to be pros at the decorating side of things...I just give them each a bag of frosting and a pile of candy and they hit it! Before you start thinking how nice that would be, please take a look at what they left behind.

And my poor kitchen ends up in this state more often than I would like! Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow....?

Ahhh, my favorite part of all this is that these are memories in the making! I remember making Christmas cookies with my family probably more than any other annual event. Ya know, the sprinkles in the cracks of the table, the crunch of red hots that are smothering the star shaped sugar cookie, the thrill of using your favorite cookie cutter each year (I like our stocking and star ones)!

Here's hoping you're enjoying some family traditions at your house! Blessings ~Resa

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Gingerbread Excitement!

Look how proud this girly is! She is posing with her prizes after her Candy Castle won the Judge's Choice at the Gingerbread Contest/Silent Auction. We are so excited for Elena's accomplishment...she chose a really fun design and added lots of intricate details to her creation this year.

Kai also did a great job on his house...he loved that the candy on the front looked like a frown face with sad eyes (don't ask me why "sadness" should be any part of a candy house, but what can I say...he's five).

Whoever won his house got an autographed masterpiece...that is KAI spelled out in pretzels on the back. His favorite part was the backyard fire pit made out of Juicy Fruit sticks with peppermints all around.

There were 18 entries...and they were all crafted with love and imagination! Kudos to Dianna Scalf and her crew for organizing a great event for the Raymore Parks Foundation. I really love being able to teach my kids about serving the community while having fun and being creative. A great lesson in giving...they are stoked that their efforts might help take care of their soccer fields!

The kids loved voting for their favorites by dropping quarters in the jars!

After much deliberation on how to decorate my row houses, I think the end result was very nice. I also think meticulous people should beware of gingerbread decorating...the level of perfection you set in your brain may lead to insanity. At least for a couple days. Anyway, I suppose it is less stressful than a wedding cake while still letting me get the food artist bug out of my system. For awhile.

The sucker sticks on the peppermints were the only non-edible items in the design. I loved making the wrought iron fencing. It's spaghetti coated with black royal icing. The piped on garland made it look a lot less "haunted housey". And we all loved the milk chocolate candy rocks! I dug out the red ones for a bit of path leading up to the chocolate covered graham steps.

Since my theme was "Peace, Love & Joy in San Francisco" (inspired by Eric and I's trip there last March) I couldn't sprinkle everything with snow...dang! I mean, I could have, but according to good ol' google it only snows there once every 25 years or so.

And thanks to my dear sister Jodi who gave me long-distance advice on details (yay for email photos)...the candles in the windows added the perfect touch! I tried something new for the grass and green bushes this year: crushed Triscuits mixed with lots of green coloring carried in a corn syrup base. I think a lot of people use tinted coconut but I didn't have any. For the bushes I rolled some mini marshmallows in green royal and then rolled them in the cracker concoction. Worked like a charm...especially since I had to squeeze them on after I had placed the yard ornaments.

So that's a wrap! If you'd like the pattern for the row houses, Kai's elf house or the farmhouse from two years ago, visit Ultimate Gingerbread. We have a bunch of mini houses we are making as gifts so as long as Eric doesn't eat all the candy before then...we'll be living in gingerbread land a little bit longer. Blessings, Resa

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cute Baby Gift!

This darling Rocking Dragon is what we ordered for Zane's Christmas gift. Is it not the cutest thing ever?

It's on backorder from One Step Ahead until December 3rd so I hope they get a big shipment and we get ours! Here's a link if you want one for your cute little their special this week is $5 flat shipping.

I'm getting giddy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

17 Years Ago...

Okay, you have to wait to read about this day in my past...the fun news? Dunt da da daaa...I'm typing on my brand new iMac! Love. Little tricky with the tee-tinsy keyboard and getting used to a mouse again (been in laptop land a loooong time) but all in all it's awesome.

We got our deal on Black Friday (which I still have yet to recoup all my sleep from btw) and Eric set it up Saturday. Only bad news is that I couldn't convince him to sign me up for One to One...he said I don't have time. Whaat? Me? Is he crazy? Oh yes, and that he could teach me anything I wanted to know. Yee-ah...that always sounds good, but evidently I always think there should be a better way to do "stuff" so I'm a horrid student. Whatever.

Well, 17 years ago tonight I was on my first date with this guy Eric who asked me out kinda out of the blue. It had been a weird Thanksgiving break...I went to my ex-boyfriend's family dinner (why?) I suppose for some closure. That or to suffer through the afternoon...can you say *awkward*? Should have got my "stuff" back that day--like my senior key and the pricey 8x10 sexy senior picture of myself--ya know so I could give it to some other guy later on. Anyway, I think that was the last I saw of him! Then one of the previously mentioned guys kinda invited himself out to meet my parents. Ooooo-kaay. Not that into you dude, but whatever makes you happy? That was weird too. Ugh!

Back to the best part...the date. Eric picked me up at my dorm in his way-awesome silver Pontiac Sunbird. At least I think that's what it was. All I remember was that he made sure to point out the very-stretched-out lacy prom garter dangling from his car mirror was indeed just "very-stretched-out"...he didn't go with a fat girl. (Please tell me why I remember some things?) We went for dinner at Subway...woot, woot! (I hate Subway now...not related to the date.) Then we went to the mall theater to see A Perfect World with Kevin Costner. Back home to Nation Hall, a quick good-night kiss at the door and done! Poof! History made!

I did happen to jot down a couple lines in my journal that night:

"Monday, November 29, 1993 12:20 am (on Tues)
I just walked Eric to the door after our first date. He seems like a pretty awesome guy~we're going out again on Friday so who knows."

Wow! Gotta love those details! It jumps pretty far and fast from there peeps. In January he told me he loved me...and I was on cloud nine. Actually wrote that I felt like the happiest girl in the world and my heart just took off and flew away. CHEESY! corny, so young. Makes me laugh now!

Many drama-filled months later, we were engaged the summer of '95 and married in May of 1996. I still had a year to finish at Pitt, then we were off for Knoxville while Eric attended grad school at UT.

And tonight, to celebrate? Well, I kinda forgot that tonight was the anniversary...and it was the whole reason I started these posts! Was going to get a sitter and plan a night out...oh well! Maybe next year. We had a pretty yummy meal of Greek pork and some turkey day left overs with the three kiddos. He's watching TV and I'm, well, you know what I am doing. Ah, the simple things are nice. Love ya babe!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gingerbread Days!

We're baking gingerbread today! The Raymore Breakfast with Santa is Saturday, December 4 and we always make a couple houses for their Gingerbread House Silent Auction. The proceeds go towards our parks department and we love supporting their endeavors. This year I'm using a pattern for Row Houses and the kids are each making a house too!

Here is my entry from last year. The gal who won it kept it for displaying again this year. It was much fun to make...even had working lights inside!

I used the pattern for the Phantom House (a Halloween house, obviously) at the Haunted Dimensions website and just left off the porch and made it Christmas-y. They use cookie dough for their main house, but gingerbread works great (better in my opinion).

Then two years ago (gasp!...that seems like forever ago...I was 6 mos. pregnant with Zane) we each made a house. I was experimenting with recipes that year so poor Kai's caved in!

LinkThis one was done using the Farmhouse Pattern from Ultimate Gingerbread. I LOVE their site...navigating it can be a bit tricky, but it is packed with great ideas, patterns and recipes. Here is a link to their gingerbread construction-grade recipes: CLICK HERE and the one I use is called "My Favorite Gingerbread Dough" found if you scroll down to the bottom of that page.

I hope you take some time this Christmas to try out some gingerbread making fun! We started out a few years ago with the easy kits they sell all over the place...perfect for kids and less-ambitious grown-ups...and believe me, much less mess!