Sunday, March 31, 2013

Another book read!

Howdy, howdy

So I just finished this book in less than a week!
Thank you, Nana, for being the kids' main playmate these days, thereby giving me time to actually kick back and consume a book.
That, plus the book was all of 144 pages. Teeny tiny.

The book is called "Put Your Life on a Diet: Lessons Learned from Living in 140 Square Feet" by Gregory Paul Johnson.
I was intrigued because I'm on a bit of a minimalism kick (thanks to Kathy) and came across it while browsing the "self-help/simplicity" section of the library.

Mr. Johnson definitely made good points on how simple living is better for you, your community, and the world in general...though it didn't necessarily teach me anything I didn't already know. He talks about shrinking your utility bill by saving water and turning off the lights, etc etc. and the health benefits of opting for a bicycle over a car. All stuff that I know and (try to) live by. But there were definitely some gold nuggets mixed in with all the "heard this before" material.

One thing it really re-inspired me to get even more serious about being car-free. He shares a story of something his father told him which was pretty much "it takes less time to get from Des Moines to Iowa City by bike than by car". When his son, Gregory Johnson, asks him how this can be, his father points out that nobody considers all the time and energy it takes to acquire a car in the first place. All the hours it takes to work a job to earn the money needed to afford the car to then be able to take your trip from De Moines to Iowa City. A bicycle costs a fraction of a car, so you can be on your way in far less time. And so, it can take less time in the long run to go by bike than by car in many situations.
I liked that little story and the point that the father made.
"Put Your Life on a Diet" talked a lot about stuff like that -- your life energy vs. financial gains dichotomy. He mentions this book "Your Money Or Your Life" by Vicki Robin too, which I just checked out of the library! I'm going to read that next.

Apparently, I'm on something of an economics kick. Because I'm also reading "Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture" by Shannon Hayes. I feel that the title says it all, but it really has me pumped about trying to detach myself from standard economic spending practices to save money or at least divert it to causes that I believe in (local economy, etc). Fascinating!

So there you have it.
A couple of books that I am interested in and would recommend.
"Put Your Life on a Diet" is good for a quick read and if you need to refresh your goals of a simpler life, and it doesn't make you feel like you should be living in 140 square feet. Just working toward something like that ;)

Anyway, take care and I hope you have time to read too -- it feels great!
Until next time, Happy Book reading!!

Ella Rose's 4th Birthday Party

Howdy howdy!

So yesterday, we celebrated Ella Rose's 4th Birthday with a celebration!
Her actually birthday is April 1st, but that's a Monday and the day that Nana is leaving, and Sunday is Easter, so the Saturday before seemed like the best bet.

I can't believe that in all the years I've had this blog, I've never done a post about Ella's birthday. Until now!
Here's a quick rundown of what her previous birthday celebrations have been like:

1st = we were in the old place that'd we'd been renting, and I pretty much invited everyone from our LBCC Live & Learn class, so there were at least twenty people. Not to mention, my family flew in as a surprise from NY, CA, and even AK! It was a pretty big bash and I went a little overboard, renting a big table and even high chairs for all the baby guests - ha! The cake was a very baby friendly carrot cake sweetened only with apple concentrate. Ella was terrified of the balloons we blew up...

2nd = we were in the new house by this point and once again I invited all of Ella's little baby friends and their families. We'd been on this elimination diet and that was a little bit reflected in the party food served. I remember making these quinoa balls made with walnuts and sweetened with honey - yum. Dash baked a cake that was decorated with the Kiki's Delivery Service sign.

White frosting on a chocolate cake...yum!
3rd = this was the first year I decided to adopt the "invite as many friends over as years old you are" standard. It made it a lot more intimate and less chaotic than the past years. I think the fact that I was very pregnant with William inspired the decision as well. ;)
Ella's friends were Douzen, Moses, and Clara -- so it was two boys and two girls. Very sweet. I guess the kids just played around together and then we did a craft project which was painting little pots that were then potted with seeds of their choice. Dash baked an angel food cake. It hailed on and off outside. @_@

And now the 4th party!
As my post prior described, I was pretty dedicated to making it a waste-free, DIY-based, and generally down-to-earth. So this was the line-up!

1) Decorations:

There were about 12 of these of varying sizes all over the kitchen/living room.
I was not interested in buying disposable one-time-use decorations (streamers, balloons, etc) and instead opted to make a dozen paper flowers that I stuck on the walls. The tutorial I followed can be found here, since it'd been years since I first did these back in Spanish class in Junior High. All the tissue paper was salvaged from gifts the family had received for every holiday for the past four years at least. And there is still more left over! The flowers came out so beautifully, I don't want to dispose of them at all! Maybe I'll jimmyrig them into some kind of mega wreath that we can put on the wall in the playroom or something. I'll keep you posted about that ;)

2) Activities:

The homemade face paints! A quasi-success, heh...
  Because you can't count on the weather in Oregon, I had a line-up of indoor-friendly activities for the kids. My original plan was going to be: dress up --> paints faces --> blow bubbles --> dance around the living room --> cake! --> do chalk drawings under the carport --> make scepters --> play/dance some more --> go home.
But as with any party (especially one for preschoolers) that order flew right out the window, which was fine by me. I made the face paint and bubble solution (both from the same resource, I only now just realized @_@) with relatively good results. The face paints were best used immediately following mixing, but when they sat around too long the components separated which is no muy bueno.

Look at that concentration. I love it!

There was also an impromptu egg-hunt facilitated by Dash and Nana that the kids really enjoyed.

The bubble action also took place outside. Which was good because the kids really liked dumping out the bubble solution...and that would've sucked indoors. :D

The craft of the day was "scepter" decorating (I chose that word over "wand" because it was a more gender-neutral term, and two of Ella's initial guests were going to be boys). The template scepters themselves were bought, but the rest of the stickers, foam pieces, sequin, etc were saved from previous crafts or had been received as gifts. Hurray for saving materials!
The line-up of activities ended up being more like this: play around upstairs (some dressing up involved) --> play outside --> egg hunt outside --> cake! --> make scepters --> blow bubbles outside --> paint faces --> go home
The weather couldn't have been better!! Seriously, about 70 degrees out there. Scoooooore~!

3) Food:

So, I don't have any good shots of the food but again it consisted of challenging myself with DIY-ness...some of which I'd never tried before. Ha! So I made/prepared: hummus, peanut butter balls, ice-cream cake, PB&J star-shaped sandwiches, carrot sticks, apple slices, and guacamole (a la Dash). Then we bought two kinds of chips...and a guest brought some fruit to share. I think that's about it for the food. The ice-cream cake was a bit of a hassle and not as easy as I'd hoped it to be though it was delicious (and relatively guilt-free!).
I followed this tutorial for basic construction and recommend using ice cream that freezes wicked hard, not the kind that stays soft for easy scooping. Also, I opted to make a gluten-free chocolate cake because a number of the guests/parents have an intolerance of sorts.

A hideous but delicious cake.
And there you have it.
A party that didn't cost a lot of money, was intimate in its size, and best of all FUN!
At least, the party girl thought so:

She ended up not dressing up as a princess...but as a Sailor Scout. :D
And that is Ella Rose's 4th Birthday Party wrap-up.
I felt so relieved and happy with its outcome, that the rest of the evening I was in this happy daze. The likes of which I haven't felt in a while. It's been an incredible week so far, and I will have to give you the run-down of that as well soon.
Until then, take care and Happy 4th Birthday Parties!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Four and One

Hey, hey!

So last night over dinner, the family was musing about the significance of the numbers four and one in the coming weeks.
Check it out:

4/1 = Ella's birthday, April 1st

41 = How old Dash is turning (!!)

4...and 1 = How old Ella and William will be turning respectively.

Pretty nifty, right?
Any other instances of four and one that I should be listing?
It reminds me of 2009, when it felt like an abnormal number movies were being released that featured the number "9":

9 = that sci-fi CG movie about the sack puppets in a post-apocalyptic environment

District 9 = that sci-fi movie about aliens in South Africa

Nine = the sequel to Federico Fellini's "8 ½"

$9.99 = an Australian stop-motion movie...technically released in 2008, but still! Pretty darn close!

Anyway, I hope you are all having a lovely week so far and think about those number patterns...they show up in the strangest places and sometimes have surprising significance!! :)

Until next time, take care and Happy Numbers!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Favorite Quotes

Hello again,

(Not to jinx myself, but I think I'm back on the horse again with these daily updates!! :) )

Today, I'd like to share with you quotes that I love.
I never really appreciated the power of these short little sayings until I "grew up" and by that, I mean that last couple of years (I guess having kids makes you a grown-up, right?)
Anyway, without further ado, here they are in no particular order:

"Don't try to be different. Just be good. To be good is different enough." Arthur Freed

This quote recently came into my life, but I wish I had been told something like this during my teenage years. I was soooooo focused on being "different" and "standing out", and I thought I was lame for being a bit of a "goody two-shoes". But when I got out into the world more, I realized that chances are you are going to be coming across people who aren't that concerned with being "good" -- they are looking out for number one and number one, alone. So being good can actually set you apart more...

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel." – Steve Furtick

Also new to me, as of this year, and so true! I guess having lived in L.A. and been pretty TV-centric most of my life, this really spoke to me. I tend to assume that everybody else has their shit together and just has all the answers, while I'm floundering still trying to figure out who/how I want to be and making that a consistent thing, rather than try-and-fail scenario. Anyway, keeping this quote in mind keeps things in better perspective for me.

"You must be the change you want to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi

A classic, I know, but damn good words to live by. Sometimes, when the earth-conscious way I do things is challenging and I wonder if it's worth the extra effort it sometimes takes, I think about this quote and remind myself that if the world's going to get any better, it's gotta start with all of us and our individual actions. 

"Stoop, pick, turn, toss. This is the way we mourn our loss." — Scavenger dirge

Okay, this is a goofy one, but I got it from a Magic Card (see below) back when I was into it (circa...7th grade?) and just thought this quote was so bleak and yet charming in its lyrical nature. What a sad life a culture would lead if that was all its people had to say about the death of a member, right?

"I believe in preserving the world for our children, but not our children's children, because I don't think children should be having sex."

Another goofy one that I got off this "inspirational poster" in my high school English teacher's classroom. I guess it was what you'd call a "demotivational poster" -- pre-Internet! As you can see, I don't remember who can be credited with this line. If you know who, please let me know!! :)

Well, that's the line-up of quotes for now.
I would love to hear favorite quotes of yours -- funny, inspirational, whatever!

Until next time, take care and Happy Quotes!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Beyond Princesses

Word up, everybody?

So I've exposed you to Ella's drawings before, right?
They mostly came in the form of princesses, ballerinas and pregnant mermaid princesses.

But just the other day, I discovered a piece of paper with a drawing...that wasn't human!

It's a horse! (So says Ella)
Don't ask me what those loop-de-loops are coming down from its mouth...
Foam? A beard? I'll have to ask her.

Anyway, I just thought that was kinda neat that she drew something so different for once.

Well! Be on the lookout for more like this and until then Happy non-Princesses!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Organizing the Closet

Hey, all!

I don't know about you, but I've got Spring Cleaning Fever~!
The urge to organize even the most seemingly insignificant space in my house has taken hold, and so far I've tackled my "grooming dresser" (a narrow set of drawers where I keep my hair/jewelry stuff) and William's closet (so long overdue!). Here, I'd like to share with you how the closet turned out.
(Sorry I didn't take a "Before" shot...just imagine a buncha clothes all thrown helter-skelter in the closet ;) )

Those Cutie boxes have come in handy once again, as they are just the right size for holding little baby clothes. Behold:

The top shelf (from left to right) is:
- random pile of socks that are missing their partner
- Animal Crackers tub full of briefs (size 2T and smaller~! Operation EC and diaper-free is on!)
- Cuties Box of socks/legwarmers (as seen back on this post once already)

The middle shelf is:
- long-sleeved shirts
- short-sleeved shirts
- shorts

The bottom shelf is:
- sweaters
- pants
- pants that don't fit in the first pants box (heh!)

Hanging in the closet are his button-up/zip-up sweaters, overalls, and toesies suits

Aaaah, nothing like being organized, eh?
It helps you better grasp what exactly you have in your wardrobe so that you don't keep reaching for the same thing over and over (the last thing you wore, which you then put at the top of the pile...and therefore wear again, etc etc).
It also made me reassess William's entire clothing inventory to see what he has outgrown, or what I never dress him because it doesn't really work for us (too many buttons or plain ugly, etc).
Any clothes that didn't make the mark have been bagged and stored in the attic in preparation for...the Spring Mama/Child Clothing Swap!!

Have you ever partaken in a Clothing Swap? Sometimes called "Naked Lady Party", a clothing swap is basically what it sounds like -- a bunch of friends come together bringing clothes they don't need/want anymore, everyone goes through the goods to find things they like, and everyone leaves with some new additions to their wardrobe! All with no money involved at all. It's a win-win situation as unwanted clothes find a new life in a new home, and ladies get a new wardrobe, without having to pay a dime.

I first went to one hosted by my midwife, Ellie Rose, back in February when I was very pregnant with William and getting ready to go on a trip to Spain with the hubby. It felt so refreshing to get so many lovely clothes and all from the generosity of others, that I was inspired to host my own at a local Church that following September. It was such a success that I decided it should become a bi-annual thing, so the Spring Mama/Child Clothing Swap is coming up in one month. And word is already spreading pretty fast! I am looking forward to it and hope that it benefits many lovely ladies in our community.

Anyway, you'll be hearing about it on here again.
Until then, take care and Happy Closet Organizing!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Birthday Party Preparations~

Howdy howdy,

So I've been staying up pretty late these past couple of days.
"For what?", you may ask.
Well, I am already crafting things for Ella's upcoming 4th Birthday Party! Not to ruin the surprise or anything, but I just have to share some sneak peeks with you here -- complete with general birthday celebration philosophy and tradition in our family~

Firstly, I am really aiming for not spending big bucks at all, and so far the total tally for all the decorations, gifts, and activities is...$7.50!!
The main reasons why I'm going to be able to keep this event so inexpensive is because I'll be:

1) Making almost everything -- from her gifts and the food, to the face paint and bubble solution we'll be playing with at the party! DIY is almost always the more affordable route to go, no?

2) Using salvaged materials from almost everything -- times like these make me thankful for all the tissue paper I saved from gifts I've received and other things that we tend to assume only have "one life". With a little bit of creative thinking, it's amazing how far some items can go, and how many uses they potentially have after their initial one. Other examples of materials making a (re)appearance in her birthday celebration include a wire hanger, scrap fabric, ribbon (also saved from wrapped gifts I've received), and cardboard back of a notepad ;)

3) Keeping in-line with our values -- that's a pretty broad idea, but it mainly means not having a lot of excess of "doo-dads" and other things people assume to be "necessary" to a party...typically in the form of cheaply made "easy in, easy out" items (i.e. goodie bags, disposable eating-ware, etc.) that aren't the gentlest on the planet neither in their production nor their demise.
Kids are pretty easy to entertain in general and won't need much more than dressing up and dancing around to give them a good time. At least, that's what experience has taught me.
And last but not least...

4) Hosting a small party -- as we did last year, Ella Rose has invited as many friends as years she will be turning. Having four of her closest friends makes for a nice and intimate way to celebrate her birthday. Also, sugared-up 4-year-olds are so much more manageable in smaller numbers, don't you think? ;)

Back to the expenses: of course, the food will rack up its own bill, but we're still going to try to make as much of it at home as we can -- even the ice-cream cake Ella's requested! I've only ever seen them offered in the grocery store pre-made, but it will be fun to replicate at home!

Anyway, here is a little sneak peek photo of what I made for Ella:

Anyone recognize that sun emblem~? ;)
I will try not to give away anymore birthday surprises until the day of/after, but I hope you enjoyed this little post (tirade? rant?) :D

Until next time, take care and Happy Birthday Preparations~!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Sis Got Married!

Hey everybody!

So wow, I have been bad, bad, bad about making daily posts.
But I think this event might have had something to do with it.
See, my sister got married a week ago (!!) but didn't want me to blog about it until she'd officially left her job -- technicalities surrounding the fact that her beau works in the same company, etc etc.
So it's been taking the forefront of my mind as I've been counting down the days to when I can finally blog about it!

And now, without further ado, please enjoy these photos of the two's happy union!

This is a bouquet that our mom had sent to Kathy for the occasion. Wasn't that thoughtful of her??
You see, our mom is pretty traditional in that she believes that a marriage must take place in a church to be seen as "legitimate in the eyes of God". So when Kathy notified her that they'd be forgoing an all-out wedding in favor of just by the Justice of the Peace, she was a little disappointed to say the least...
And yet she still went out of her way to send her this beautiful bouquet for Kathy to hold on that day just to make it that much more special. And she even sent a matching boutonniere for the groom! Isn't that the sweetest thing?? Gosh, I hope I am as thoughtful when my kiddos get married -- even if it's in a way not totally in-line with my beliefs/expectations/etc. That's the role of the parent, though, right? All-supportive and showering unconditional love, right?

Anyway, moving on...

So as I mentioned above, Kathy and Martin (that's my new bro-in-law's name!) were married by the Justice of the Peace. That means they got to be wed in about 5 minutes (nice!) and by a woman (nicer!!) Apparently, the lady was really friendly and nonjudgmental. Didn't even raise an eyebrow when Kathy let her know there wouldn't be any rings involved.
That's right, no rings because a) they didn't want to rush the decision and b) they generally don't believe it's a must-have for their new married lifestyle. I can definitely see the pros and cons to having a ring, myself, so I didn't argue with her either. I personally think a tattoo around the finger is a good way to go because you don't have to worry about having this (potentially) expensive piece of metal around your finger getting lost or anything! Myself, I take my ring off a lot, like when I shower or do the dishes, and my finger has evidently shed some weight since I first got it fitted because it's just a taaaaad lose now, which makes me extremely conscious about it slipping off and getting lost. "Any day now...!" I keep telling myself.

Anyway, back to the ceremony at hand: Kathy wore a dress of mine that I bought in NYC way back when and that hairpiece was something we found in a mall in Melbourne, Australia when we taught a Translation Workshop back in '05...but that's a story for another day ;)
All in all, doesn't she look lovely~? ♡
And Martin looks content, and maybe a little serious about the matter. Ah well, that's his style I guess :)

What a cute shot, right? Personally, the concrete pillars outside take a bit of the romance away, but at least the right-half of the photo is nice, eh? :)

The happy couple once again~ ♡
Apparently, following the short ceremony, they had some to hold their own mini photoshoot. I think Kathy said there were about 300 photos total (??) but she only sent the best handful to the family.
I applaud them for the nice composition of this one.
Martin can pull off the "serious-smile" thing pretty well as you can see in this shot - ha! :D

The happy newly-wed. What a pretty, young thing.
Congratulations, Kathy! I love you!!!!

I found this union to be very "Kathy" in its unconventionality. See, both Kathy and Martin like to really research a thing to death before going ahead with it (be it a purchase or what-have-you) and marriage was no different. At first, Kathy was tempted to go the "Off-Beat Bride" way and make it more DIY and unconventional in the choice of dress and location, etc. But the deeper they delved into what typically constitutes a "marriage ceremony" the more they questioned why it had to be any of that at all...and if that was really in-line with their own values and lifestyle. So she forwent the expensive wedding dress you only wear once, the rings containing blood diamonds, the gratuitous dinner party complete with vexing albeit "obligatory" invites, the materialistic color-themed decor, the sugar-laden cake, the pricey photographer, and everything else that people have been raised to thing are "necessary" to getting married. I don't blame her -- it saved a lot of stress, hassle, money, and energy. Sure, most people want to share the news of their lifelong commitment with everybody they know in the form of a wedding celebration, but Kathy and Martin are too modest for that and honestly a bit on the loner side so they didn't feel the need to  make the event about other people. Just about themselves.
And that is just fine with me :)

Well, I hope you enjoyed all those photos, and wish the best of luck to this new married team.

Until next time, take care and Happy Marriages!

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Hi ho!

I feel like I've been away from the blog for a while, so I will do some recapping of the last couple of days' events here.

Firstly, I should come clean and admit that since I wrote about Ella's "new sleeping arrangement", she has not slept in her bed once >_<
But I guess it is like anything relating to teaching/training children: don't push it too hard and they will eventually come to it on their own.

So Thursday was a good day -- Ella went to school, I got some work done in the meanwhile (and planned for her party...coming in a couple of weeks!!), and then picked her up via bicycle. I love when I can do that!! Sometimes it takes a little extra planning, and William has to be cooperative. But I figured out that he likes being in the bike trailer when the plastic tarp is not down and covering him. So that has made for much smooth bicycling with him.
You learn something new every day, right??

Thursday evening, I took the kids with me to the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition's "Sustainability Fair & Town Hall" event. It was from 5pm to 9pm, and we were there until 7:30 -- and the kids were such good sports!! What really motivated me to go this year was that they would be dedicating the Town Hall portion to local babies born in the past year...and William is one of those kids! His photo was displayed on the PowerPoint presentation and his name listed, along with some friends' kids like Annika, Henry, and Anna :)

I should also mention that we've had some glorious weather these days! No rain, lots of sun, barely a breeze, and maybe about 60+ degrees in temperature~! That's what made walking to and from the Sustainability Fair not only possible, but very enjoyable. And Ella Rose walked literally the entire way back home!! That's pretty impressive for our little stroller-lover ;)

Friday I spent the morning wrapping up a script, then spent the remainder of the day out and about with the kids again. We played at a local park, then hit up an art reception on campus, mailed off the book that I'd just finished translating, and then played at Central Park. I got to chat with my sister on the phone for a good long while (I have exciting news about her that I can only share next'll see why ;) ) and even ran into good friends at the Park. It really felt like the whole town and student body was out and about. I love how good weather has that effect in Corvallis. :D
Back at home, we had our weekly Family Movie Night (a new tradition that is helping to cut back on the excessive screen time I felt we had), and Dash made pizza. Yay!!

Then today (Saturday), I woke up with a yucky feeling throat, and last night was none too easy with William, so Dash sweetly took care of the kids all morning while I rested more and read up on a new series I'll be translating. Ella Rose spent the entire afternoon at a friend's house and William actually napped on me twice (it feels rare these days...Dash handles most of his naps lately), and then I tidied up around the house.

The end.

That is the recap since I last blogged and looking back on it, it's been a nice couple of days. :)
In terms of broader announcements, I feel like I should write about some general trends happening here lately:

- William is pretty clearly signing for "milk" and "more". I think it's been for the last week or so, but I feel safe only mentioning it now.

- William has also gone from three naps down to two. It's been like this for at least a month, but again, I wasn't sure I could say that for sure until now. And there have been some days where he naps only once. That sucks when that happens.

- When I suggest/command something to Ella Rose, the way she oh-so politely sidesteps it is by replying with "I know. How about...[insert alternative to what I just asked for]". Which I have to say I like, because it's less confrontational and sometimes the alternatives she offers aren't so bad. :)

- Often at dinner time, Ella Rose suggests that we all be a "____ Family". These days, "Kitty Family" or "Princess Family" are the popular choices. We play along, but only so much as addressing each other by our newfound names.

- William will sometimes bite our fingers when we try to pry an object away from him... We have to work on that.

That's about all I wanted to mention.
Forgive this long photoless post and I hope you have a rawkin' evening!
See you (hopefully) tomorrow!!
And until then, take care and Happy Recaps!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Sleeping Arrangement!

Hi, all!

You'll have to forgive me for another pic-free post today.
But I had to wait for the kiddos to be asleep and this post has to do with the bedroom...and I didn't want to disturb their dreams.

I just wanted to record here that for the first time (in a long time, if not ever), Ella Rose is sleeping in her own bed!
Of the past four nights, two of them she slept in her own bed. And it took minimal coaxing from me. The first time, I just reasoned with her very logically that she should sleep in her own bed for the best sleep and we're not very far away, and she could come join us in bed when she woke up in the morning. I told her a story with the lights out, and poof! She was sawing logs.

The next night she was more resistant, so she stayed in the Family Bed.

But then last night I was able to just lay her in her bed and excuse myself saying I had to use the bathroom and that I'd "be right back". This "BRB" approach has worked for the past year, actually, and so long as I step out of the room under that guise, she will be asleep within moments.

Tonight she's back in the Family Bed, so we have a funny little pattern going on here, where every other night she'll sleep in her own bed.
But oh well! Baby steps, right?

I gotta say, I'm loving it! :)

How/where do your babies or older kiddos sleep? If they sleep in their own bed, how/when did you make the transition?
Until next time, take care and Happy Sleeping Arrangements!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DST...kicking my butt?

Hey all,

So as you know Daylight Savings Time began early Sunday morning.
That explains why I haven't been posting these past couple of days.
As I've mentioned before, night time is the prime time for me to get some blogging done.
It's when my creative writing juices really flow~

But ever since the change in time, I've been falling asleep right along with the kiddos at a whopping 8:30pm. Guuuh! >_<
Hopefully, I will be back in action, staying up late (to get much-needed work done as well!) and blogging more regularly again.

Until then, I hope you have all adjusted to the change better than me and Happy DST until then!!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

More Ella Art

Hey there, ho there!

I'm gonna have a shameless mama moment here and showcase a bit more of Ella's work from this past week.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

Big, hollow eyes... @_@

The sun shining down on Sleeping Beauty

A ballerina performing, complete with stage lights (!!)

I drew that ballerina on the far right, but the other two are Ella's ;)
That's all.
I hope she always feel like she can draw and not label herself as someone who "can't even draw a stick person". Drawing is like anything else, right? The more you do it, the better you get! You can only ever get better, not worse.

What have you or your kiddos been drawing these days? Any favorite themes? ;)

Until next time, take care and Happy Drawings!!

Friday, March 8, 2013


Hello, all!

Wow, so it seems my blog has fallen into an "every other day" pattern, rather than every single day.
Oh, well. After you hear what I've been dealing with the past 48+ hours, maybe you'll understand why! (Warning: graphic-ish ear-related depictions to follow!)

So on Tuesday, I woke up feeling like I ought to clean my ears with a Q-Tip. I had just started when I immediately felt this "thunk" kinda sensation, and lo, my hearing felt completely blocked! Thankfully, I was able to hop in the shower and use water to clear it back up again...and the rest of the day went fine.

But then in the middle of the night, I could feel that my hearing was muffled again, and the next morning, the shower didn't do the trick like it had last time! Still, I had to drop Ella off at school despite having this bizarre feeling of having half my head submerged underwater, or somebody having stuck their finger in my ear. Yuck! >_< It was all so very uncomfortable and irritating.

By the afternoon, I couldn't stand it any longer and got Dash to buy those weird "ear candles" I'd heard about:

Open flame + ear = sweat!!!!

Very cool-looking, but it didn't help at all! Nor did all the warm water we doused my ear with, nor the "ear wax removal" kit and its fancy solution, nor even good old fashioned hydrogen peroxide.
Nothiiiiiing. ;_;

So Wednesday, I spent the whole day with this clogged ear, through a mama-baby session, work, and then knitting. On Thursday, I attended a bilingual playdate and did some more work on campus...even though I was partially deaf still! It was so frustrating!! My own voice sounded distant in my head and even scratching my head or walking around reverberated in my ear in a very distracting way. Bleeegh!

Okay, so I was so desperate at this point, that I went to Urgent Care.
I was afraid they'd think me a freak: a twenty-something who clogged her own ear because of wax build-up...really??
But when I explained my story, they said that they actually handle things like this at least once a day! Go figure!!

With a little solution-soak and then irrigation (key!!!!!) they unclogged my ear!!
And the beast that was the impacted wax...oh god, it was disturbing to see that this thing had been dormant in my ear for who knows how long!! I should've taken a picture or something -- it was epic! It looked like a sweet potato, all lumpy, but longer (I wanna say over an inch), and very dark brown/orange. Thinking about it right now is making my stomach heave... @_@

The folks at Urgent Care were so nice as to clear out the other ear even though I didn't feel any problems with it, and they extracted a sizable piece too! In made me wonder how something so large could actually have been in my ear all this time...

I wish I had gone to them sooner, but I'll just have to see what the bill is like to see if it was a 100% perfect move on my part. Why, oh why, didn't I just ask how much the treatment would have been? I am so unversed in the ways of health care, I feel..

I don't know who taught me that Q-Tips go in the ear, but this whole experience has shown me the very real problem with doing that. From now on, no Q-Tips beyond the outer ear!!

You guys ever have wacky ear/wax issues? Isn't it so glorious to get your hearing back after it's been on the fritz? Totally made me appreciate my ability to hear unobstructed. And I swear it's even sharper than ever -- the sound of my clothes rubbing on my skin as I move is almost distracting it's so pronounced to me!

Well, until next time no Q-Tips in the ears and Happy Clean Ears!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Our Grinder

Heya heya!

So Dash made a recent change in our home that I am very pleased with.
It has to do with our grinder.

A bicep-builder and grain-grinder all in one!

We have this wheat grinder, see, that I bought last summer.
I was initially inspired by Ella Rose's preschool teacher who said that she can grind her own flour and bake fluffy whole wheat bread with it, without having to cut it with "baker's flour" or anything! Such is the magic of fresh ground flour.

Although it cost a pretty penny initially, it's cheaper to buy sacks of whole wheat berries and rather than pre-ground wheat so it pays itself back eventually -- in a carbo-happy household like ours, it's sooner than later. :D

And the flour that it produces...incredible.
Like, really, anything that's been ground up and then sitting in a bag for potentially months is just  powder compared to the freshly ground wheat we get. I know that sounds so snobby, but it's true! (come by for a taste sometime~!)

Anyway, the big change that entails this grinder is that it is now indoors.
It used to be out in the workshed, but when the weather gets particularly cold, it takes a whole lot of motivation to stand out there in the chilly workshed and grind wheat for 20 minutes.

We cover it with a tarp when we're running a load, juuuust in case.

So Dash fashioned a kind of slab that fits over our laundry sink, bolted it in place, and viola! Grinder in the comfort of our own home. Now to rig up a system so that we can listen to the radio with earplugs while we grind -- it is definitely a noisy affair and tuning into NPR during a grind is good for the body and the mind!

Already, Dash has whipped up some pancakes with some home-ground wheat...and they were so good! It's like they have a lot of body, if I had to describe it.

In a household like ours, we eat a lot of flour-based things. Here is a sampling of what we bake from scratch with it:

- tortillas
- crackers
- cookies
- pancakes
- sandwich bread
- burger buns
- rolls
- cornbread
- cakes

That's all I can think of at the moment...
What's cool is we could grind other grains chickpeas and rice to produce gluten-free flours (which we have been known to do in the past). I am really looking to expand our grain repertoire this year.

Look at all those little grains of cute!
What grains do you buy for your family? Would you ever consider grinding it yourself?? It's a great workout to boot! :D

Well, until next time take care and Happy Grinding!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Social Weekend!

Hey, all!

Sorry I failed to write on Saturday.
I typically write my post recapping the day's events laaaaate at night.
But Saturday night...I didn't get back home until 1am the following morning! :)
That's right, I went on a girls' night out!!

This is definitely a first for me since becoming a mom and it was stupendous!
I got to hang with the lovely Sophie G. from 6pm all the way until 1am the next morning, and enjoyed an evening of conversation and gourmet! Very indulgent and so worth it.

After a bacon-buffalo burger dinner, I enjoyed cocoa at a cafe complete with life music performance, and topped off the smörgåsbord with a decadent berry dessert at a restaurant that had yet more live music. Boy, Corvallis has some pretty hip stuff going on Saturday nights...that I usually am unaware of because of things like bedtime routines and such.
Here's a shot of our lovely desserts!
Triple-berry Cobbler!!

Hazelnut...caramel...?...more stuff that feels sinful :)
I should also mention, that we had started our Saturday by going to an "all you can eat pancake breakfast" hosted at the high school to raise money for charities. So I had sweets for breakfast and then in the evening! Double whammy!!

Still, it was a very bonding experience and good lesson in "treat yourself!" that I tend to lack in...
Sophie's an intelligent and multi-talented woman and I feel blessed to have her in my life. Friends like these are more precious than anything and I really value her.

Saturday's girl-to-girl socializing was great, but Sunday was also a family sense.
I brought the kiddos to the First Presbyterian Church again for the second time this year (truth be told, I've missed a few weeks there due to social engagements/sickness/etc). The service was followed by cake and Ella got to run around with some kiddos. Awesome.

Then, the sun was out, so the whole family went on a bike ride to Central Park. So that was nice...

Ella Rose is making great progress on her Skuut Bike! :)
 This kid loves the swing~

And then we went to a 6-month "birthday" celebration that involved make-you-own Banana Splits!!!!!
No photos of the event here, but it was epic. Once again, put on by the ever hospitable and cool Nathan and Emily :)

So that's a wrap.
Quite a lot of out-and-about going on. Which is good because this coming week is going to be more like nose-to-grindstone work. Ha!

How did you spend your weekend?
Are you feeling like you get out enough...and that you treat yourself to completely indulgent outings enough?? Talk to me.

Until next time, take care and Happy Social Weekends!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Homemade Cottage Cheese

Hey everybody!

Boy, today turned out to be quite a day of activity in the kitchen.
Dash made oatmeal cookies for breakfast and then rolls for dinner.
And me? I made cottage cheese.

Making cottage cheese is like making yogurt...but it takes zippo time at all!

Unlike my yogurt post, I took many photos of the cottage cheese-making process, so here we go!

You're going to need only a couple things:
- milk
- white vinegar
-  candy thermometer
- pot full of water
- clean jar

1) Fill a big jar with milk. It can be any milk, really, and in my case it was 2%.

2) Place the jar in a pot of water on the stovetop. Insert candy thermometer and crank up the heat! To be extra careful, I position a washcloth beneath the jar so that it is not in direct contact with the pot. Allow the milk to reach 190 F.

3) Once it has reached 190 F, remove the jar from the pot and place it on the counter. It will be very hot, so use potholders or something.
Here's where the magic happens. You're going to pour in some white vinegar, stir it around, and watch the curds separate.
I was able to capture this on video, actually, so check it out!!

4) Prepare a strainer in a bowl on the counter, start spooning out the curds that are floating at the top of your jar now, and place in the strainer.

5) When you've spooned out enough of the cottage cheese to clear the mouth of your jar better, carefully pour the rest of the contents of the jar into the strainer. It will catch all the curds, and let all the whey out beneath it.
No joke, until I started making cottage cheese at the end of last year, I never fully understood what "curds and whey" were all about from Miss Muffet's nursery rhyme. Now I (and you) know!

6) Refrigerate the strainer-bowl set-up in the fridge, letting every last ounce of whey drip out of the cottage cheese.
In a couple of hours, you've got yourself a nice batch of fresh, cold, bouncy cottage cheese.

[sorry, no photo! Seemed a little redundant with the last one]

7) Now you're gonna have a bunch of whey leftover. Don't chuck it!! Save it for the myriad uses it has to offer. Personally, I like feeding it to our dog with his dry food. He loves it and I think it does his GI tract well.

 And that's it!
Not too shabby and it comes together in a cinch!
I'd say that one gallon of milk makes roughly one pint of cheese. I think? It feels like at least a pound.
Some day I'll do exact measurements, I promise!

Until then, I hope you will try making some of your own cottage cheese sometimes. And tell me how it goes!!

And with that, take care and Happy Cottage Cheese!!