Saturday, March 31, 2007


As of this past Thursday, Steve has now been home from Iraq for the same amount of time that he was gone (he came home October 29, 2005). It is kind of odd to think about it like that, because so much has happened since he came back - - he's been promoted, started a new job, we bought a new house, I quit my job, was pregnant, had a baby (who is now 6 months old)...sometimes I forget just how long he was in Iraq. If any of you watched the Today show on Friday, you may have seen the clip of the six-year-old boy being surprised by his father in the middle of his kindergarten class - - his father had just gotten back from Iraq and the little boy didn't know he was coming - - his reaction was such a tear-jerker. At this point, Camden doesn't even remember that Steve was ever gone, and I am so thankful for that. Steve and I were talking recently about how his deployment happened just at the right time, because Camden had just turned one. If he were deployed now, I don't know how Camden would handle it - - Steve is everything to him. It bothers him when Steve isn't home (Steve has drill this weekend, and sure enough, Camden climbed in bed with me around 11:30 last night). He loves his Daddy so much, and with good reason. Steve is the most wonderfully loving and devoted father to his boys. There aren't words that can adequately convey what I am talking about - - suffice to say, the man loves his children, and even though he works ridiculous hours, he always has time for them. Steve and his boys, this past Friday, when we met him on base for lunch
The boys and I have a couple of tricks up our sleeves tomorrow, as it is Steve's 39th birthday (yes, Steve is an April Fool). We won't be picking him up from drill until late afternoon unfortunately, but we'll make sure to have plenty of fun tomorrow night.

Earlier this evening, my sister-in-law Kasey and nephew Banzer came for a visit. Banzer will be turning one soon, and I won't be surprised if he is walking before then. He has great balance and is cruising the furniture like nobody's business. Must get to bed! I'll close with a couple more pictures:

Griffin, showing off his sippy-cup-holding and sipping skills
Sweet Banzer

Friday, March 30, 2007

Easy Easter Centerpiece

Here is an easy and inexpensive idea for an Easter centerpiece:

I found the mirror at my local dollar store, and the little tin buckets at the dollar section at Target. Then, I planted wheat grass seed (found at my local craft store) in the buckets, and threw a few jelly beans around on the mirror. Voila! Centerpiece.

If you like to get creative, and you ever come across wheat grass seed, buy some. It is so inexpensive, a little goes a long way, and it grows fast (when I took this picture, I had just planted it three days before). It lasts for about 8-10 weeks.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sugar Easter Eggs

When I was little, I remember one of these sugar eggs being up in the dish cupboard - - I think my mother must have made it at a cake decorating class. I have always been fascinated with sugar Easter eggs, and finally tried making some a few years ago. They were very easy to make, and so pretty. The other day, Camden and I invited some friends to come to our house and make some with us, and we had a great time. That's Camden's egg on the left, along with the one we made for Camden's friend, Josie.

Molding Sugar
5 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons Wilton meringue powder (you can purchase a can of this in the cake decorating section at your local Walmart)
3 1/2 tablespoons water (if you would like colored sugar - - we made ours blue - - simply add a few drops of food coloring to the water, before you mix it with the sugar)

Mix the meringue powder with the sugar in a large bowl(use a whisk to evenly distribute). Then add the water. Mix with a wooden spoon at first, but then use your hands to ensure it is well mixed. You will want it to look and feel like wet sand:
Next, pack the mixture firmly into each half of your mold. Wilton sells rather expensive molds, but you can easily go to the Easter section at any store and purchase a plastic Easter egg - - the one I got was about 4 inches long or so, and was probably filled with candy or something. Much cheaper than buying an actual sugar mold kit. Level the top of the mold with a knife so the surface is flat. Unmold by inverting onto a smooth surface. Take a sharp knife and cut off the narrow end of the egg (this will be the area you "peek" into, once it is put together). Do the same with the other half o the egg, cutting off equal amounts so the halves will match up.

Let the molds dry for about 3 hours. Gently pick up each half and hollow out with a spoon, creating an oval bowl. I had to gently break away the hardened sugar on the "peek" end with my fingers. You can save the sugar that you scoop out, to make more eggs with. Just put it back in a bowl and cover it with a wet dish towel to keep it moist. Once they are all hollowed out, let them dry for an additional 30 minutes (hollowed side up).

Royal Icing
1 lb. confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
5-7 tablespoons lukewarm water

Combine all the ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer. Turn speed to high and mix for 5-7 minutes, until very stiff peaks form. Put icing into a decorating bag. This is your "glue", as well as icing for decorating. Pick what you want to put in your egg. We used little Wilton sugar decorations of bunnies and chicks, but you can use any kind of small animals, etc. Glue them to the bottom of the egg with the royal icing. You can then add some Easter grass around your items. Then, pipe some icing around the top of the egg half, and then add the top of the egg. Pipe around the seam of the egg, as well as around the peep hole. You can add silver dragees for extra decoration if you'd like. It takes a few hours for the royal icing to set, so place them away from little hands for 3 hours or more. If stored carefully, these eggs will keep for years.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I Never Know What to Call These Kind of Posts...

I'm talking about the kind of post where I really don't have a specific topic to write about, but I still feel like writing. I tend to think of them more as "update" posts, I guess. To get right to it, I finally took Griffin to the doctor today, since he's had a cold for nearly a week now and doesn't seem to be getting any better. Okay, not exactly - - the actual reason for taking him to the doctor was because he spent most of last night screaming, so Steve and I knew something else had to be up. He woke up numerous times in the night and cried hysterically, and we just couldn't console him. That would be due to the fact that he has a double ear infection, poor little guy. So, he has started antibiotics and we are hoping that by this time tomorrow night, he'll be feeling a lot better. Nurse Kathy tossed him up on the scales while we were there, and he's up to 16 lbs. now, which made me chuckle because that is what Camden weighed when he was 8 weeks old (Griffin is now 6 months old). Two very different boys we have.

Camden is full of it, per usual. He is very happy to have a new friend named Josie - - she lives next door in our rental. She's six and is rather good for Camden in that she is a bit bossier than he is. They spent most of the weekend pretending that they were Ariel and Eric from the Little Mermaid. On Saturday, Camden informed me that they would be getting married "any minute now". Tonight, while we were eating dinner, Camden said, "I hope Josie missed me today." He went so far as to tell Josie (several times) that he loves her, and as you can probably imagine, she shot back with the "boys are so gross!" look.

A couple of weeks ago, at music class, I struck up a conversation with one of the moms who has been attending the class as long as we have. Come to find out, we have all kinds of things in common, and she lives right down the road. We've gotten together a couple of times already, and she and her two boys will be coming over tomorrow for some Easter crafts. After meeting her, Steve and I had a good laugh when I called him up at work and said, "Guess what? I have a friend, I have a friend!" It is sad but true that Terri (my new friend!!) is the first real friend I've made in the town I live in, since moving here almost 6 years ago. Egads! I'm going to go ahead and blame that on the fact that I have spent most of that time commuting and working in a different town, so until I started staying home, I wasn't really home that much.

Steve is extremely busy, but that isn't anything new! He won't be traveling again until the end of April, so that is great. He is in the middle of building a new, very large sandbox for Camden, which Camden is thrilled about.

A few weeks ago, we noticed these really gross looking black things that kept appearing under the big tree in our back yard. Steve told me they were "owl pellets", which are basically the indigestible parts of things that owls eat. Since owls don't have teeth, they swallow their food (mice, moles, insects, birds, etc.) whole, and then digest the meat, but then regurgitate the bones, feet, beak, fur, etc. which come out as these black things that look sort of like pieces of coal with bones sticking out of them (gross, but true). This past Saturday, Steve found the actual owl, sleeping on a branch, high in the tree. I don't think I'll be able to get a picture of him, but I can see him when I go out and stand under the tree, and he's gorgeous. From what I can tell, he is a common barn owl. He's mostly white, with some tan spots. I hope he'll hang around for a while!

It is late and I must get to bed. I'm pretty sure Griffin will be having another restless night until those antibiotics kick in, so I'd better take advantage of the fact that he's asleep now!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hello. Welcome to my Handbag Addiction.

I think I have a problem that may be bigger than my shoe problem. It seems I may have a teensie-weensie addiction to handbags. I love them. I Cannot Help Myself. I love to look at them in stores. Sometimes, I like to look at them online. Yes, sometimes I even daydream about them. So sue me. It isn't my fault, really. I refuse to take responsibility for my actions. You see, it is much easier to just blame my darling father. Any of you who have shopped in his store know full well that the man simply cannot help himself - - even if you are there with the sole intention of purchasing sneakers - - he simply must say those words, "You really ought to have this handbag, too!" So, there you have it. It is all his fault. I'm glad I don't have to feel guilty, every time I open my closet door. What a load off my mind.
Here is the handbag I am currently in love with. Yes, it is gigantic. Yes, it is very, very blue. And yes, it has a big tassel thing hanging off the zipper. I don't care. I am madly in love with this handbag. I can't do small handbags. I like to carry too much stuff. Some of the items currently living in my handbag: wallet, checkbook, calculator, coupon organizer, lipstick, assorted pens, Swiss Army knife, emergency snacks for Camden, zip lock bag with emergency diaper and wipes for Griffin, gum, mints, face powder, business card organizer, cell phone....see? I need a lot of room. I like to be prepared. I fear this particular handbag may be just a tad large, after wiping out a small display of Rice-a-Roni at my local grocery store the other day, when I turned to put something in my cart. Oh well. At least I looked cute while the boxes fell to the floor.
This red bag is another favorite. I love red. So what could be better than a red handbag? Not much, I tell you.
I love this bag, too. The problem is, it is TINY. This only ever sees the light of day if it "goes" with a particular outfit. My wallet doesn't even fit in it, for goodness sakes. My folks got this bag for me, when they went to China. I love it. Nice and roomy.
I could go on and on but I'll try to control myself. My father would be proud to know that my handbag collection is arranged neatly on the top shelf of my closet, each one stuffed with tissue paper. See, I told you I had a problem. Even my 3-year old son, after standing next to me while I typed this post said, "Mummy! You have too much purses!!!" Silly boy. Any woman knows that it is impossible to have "too much" purses.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Boogers & Monkeys

Meet Griffin's nemesis, the bulb syringe, or, more commonly known in our household as The Booger Sucker. I'm quite sure that even when Griffin is a good three rooms away, he can hear me open the door to my medicine cabinet (where The Booger Sucker lives) and immediately begins to shriek. Yes, the boy has his first full-fledged cold. He's done pretty well to fend off illness this long, but then again, he hasn't been in day care. Poor Camden caught his first cold at 13 weeks of age, during his first week in day care, and proceeded to be sick off and on for the next 2+ years. Griffin's been a little trooper the past couple of days, although today he pretty much wants to be held non-stop.
Now, meet Monkey:
I do believe that Monkey may in fact be Griffin's version of Blue Bunny. Monkey was given to Griffin by our dear friend, Annice. Griffin has quite a vast array of stuffed animals, but he seems to have a special affinity for Monkey, as the following photos will show:
Speaking of Blue Bunny, we had yet another Blue Bunny Red Alert last night. Camden was heading to bed, and Blue Bunny was nowhere to be found. Camden was rather calm about the whole thing, but Steve and I were tearing the house apart. I finally thought to look out into the back yard, where I spied a lone furry blue foot sticking out from the basket on the back of Camden's tricycle. Camden was happy, and Blue Bunny was cold, but no worse for the wear.
Last weekend, my dear friend Michelle came to visit, along with her twin boys, Tyler and Austin.
We had a great time, and the boys sure had fun playing together. I can't wait to get together with Michelle again.
Now we are off to Music & Movement at the library, which always proves to be a hoot.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tumble Time

On Monday mornings, Camden goes to gymnastics, and he loves it. My mom has been wishing she could see him doing his "tricks", so I'm posting these pictures from this weeks' class.
Here are a couple of extra shots, from when we were outside doing yard work, earlier today:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spring Has Sprung

There are flowers popping up all over our yard! I just love the mild Idaho winters. There really only seem to be a few weeks where it is really cold, and then it starts feeling like spring. It will be in the low 70's this weekend, which will be fantastic.

Steve is off on a business trip, so the boys and I on our own yet again. I sort of feel like I haven't seen my dear husband much at all, lately. I'll be glad when he returns home Friday evening. In the meantime, we are rather busy with yard work, long walks, assorted baking, and plenty of playing. Camden and I baked some shamrock sugar cookies, so that he and his little friends Austin and Tyler can decorate them, when they come for a visit on Saturday. I bought a brisket today, and need to firm up the rest of my St. Patrick's Day menu, so that I can finish my shopping. Austin and Tyler's mom is my dear friend Michelle (we use to work together at St. Luke's). I haven't seen her since December so I just can't wait to see her this weekend. It should be fun.

Tomorrow, we have music class at the library, and after that we plan to stick pretty close to home. Plenty of raking and weeding to be done in the yard. My mother will gasp aloud when she reads this -- I've decided to get rid of my dishwasher. This house came with a stand-alone dishwasher, and I don't like it for a few reasons. One, because it is a stand-alone (not built in). Two, because it is quite old and frankly, it doesn't do a great job washing dishes. I practically have to wash the dishes by hand before running the cycle, in order for them to come out clean. Three, there really isn't room for it in my kitchen. It takes up too much room. A couple of weeks ago, I stopped using it all together, to see if I would miss it. I don't. Being at home now, I pretty much wash dishes after every meal anyway. I checked with our local consignment shop yesterday, and they will come and get it for me. Shoot, I may even make a few dollars when it is all said and done. I can't wait to pull my kitchen table out from up against the wall.

It is late and I really must go to bed. I leave you with a new shot of my precious boys.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Keeping Busy

I can't believe how quickly this past week flew by! Before I quit my job, I thought I would have days where I was bored, or that time would drag by...not the case at all. In fact, it seems that time has been passing by much too quickly. The boys and I were super busy this week, and the weekend will be busy as well. Some of the highlights were story time at Barnes & Noble, Music & Movement at the library yesterday, and spending lots and lots of time outside. It reached a high of 63 this week, and will be up to 65 on Sunday. I've been hard at work getting our yard in shape for spring, and it is looking good. Camden has always loved being outside, and I was happy to learn that Griffin loves it, too. I was able to just put him in his bouncy seat under a tree, and he was as happy as can be.

I picked up a new hobby this week...making baby food. I love it! It is so easy, and so much cheaper (and healthier) than jarred baby food. For example, two containers of organic sweet potato costs $1.29. Yesterday, I made 24 servings of organic sweet potato for $1.87. All I have to do is steam whatever it is I am making, puree in my food processor, freeze in ice cube trays overnight, and then pop them out and store them in freezer bags.
This evening, I made peas. That was a bit more labor intensive than the sweet potatoes, as I had to press them through a fine strainer after I'd pureed them, in order to get the right consistency. Still, it was a cinch. On Sunday, I'll prepare some apples. The boys and I went to the Co-op this morning and got some organic fruits and veggies so I can keep experimenting. Once I have a frozen stash, all I have to do is remove the number/variety of cubes I'll be serving to Griffin each day.

As you can imagine, Camden and I have been in high gear, getting ready for St. Patrick's day. Yesterday, I made some great Creme de Menthe Brownies.
I got the recipe from Quick & Simple magazine, but the recipe actually comes from Paula Deen's "Celebrate!" cook book. I had to go ahead and freeze the whole batch, lest I eat them all by myself. I've got some fun things planned for Camden next Saturday, and I've picked out a yummy-sounding brisket recipe, along with a couple of new sides to try.
Steve has drill this weekend, so we are on our own for the next couple of days. Tomorrow, I'll be heading to a Family Readiness training (for the Army). This is my first training, so I'm looking forward to learning more about what I'll be doing as the chairwoman. Griffin will tag along with me. Camden, on the other hand, is in for quite an exciting day. Since Steve wasn't able to take Camden himself, he arranged for his brother to take Camden to "Monster Jam" at the Idaho Center. This is a huge monster truck show. The poor boy has been beside himself with anticipation all week, so I can only imagine how excited he will be tomorrow.
I love, love, love being a stay-at-home mom. Certainly, it is the hardest I've ever worked in my life, but I just love being with these two little boys. I've been feeling extra thankful lately that Steve works so darn hard, so that I can be at home. Life is good!
Griffin is obsessed with hair lately. Pulling it, that is.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

For Your Viewing Pleasure...

Griffin and Steve at Camel's Back Park, Boise

Blue Eyes

We've now moved on to a "cowboy" phase...

In full cowboy attire

A lovely view of Squaw Butte on the drive home

Monday, March 05, 2007

Edna, Step Away From the Scissors

Camden has been in dire need of a haircut for quite some time now. Usually, we go out to the base and visit the military barber, "Miss Helga". On a whim (from my experience, things done on a whim are never a good idea - - you would have thought that would have stopped me) I decided to take Camden to the local "fast food" hair joint in our town - - you know, "Quickie Cuts" or "Super Cuts" or whatever. When we got there, fool that I am, I decided to get my bangs trimmed. Bad idea. Bad, bad, bad. The woman who cut my hair looked to be about 75 (I'm not exaggerating), had a shaky scissor hand, and was sporting the most gawd-awful hair-do you've ever seen. Yet another bad sign. In my head I told myself, "It's just a trim of the biggie!" Silly, silly me. Well, 15 minutes and $12.50 later, I looked like the little girl who found Mommy's scissors and decided to cut her own hair, the day before school pictures. Yes, it is that bad, and so much worse. I seriously have NO clue what this woman was thinking, if she even was thinking. When I went in, my bangs fell a little below the bridge of my nose. I told her I wanted just a "tad" trimmed off. Now, the are about an inch above my eyebrows. I look hideous. To add insult to injury, when I arrived home, my husband was unable to contain his laughter, not once, but multiple times, and even went so far as to agree that my hair looked, "really bad". Doesn't he know that the question, "Does my hair look bad?" falls into the same category as, "Does this dress make me look fat?" in that the response is always, "You look GREAT, honey!!"

P.S. Do not expect to see any pictures of me, posted on this blog, for a few weeks. I'll be in hiding, waiting for my hair to grow.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Mmmm....Spaghetti Sauce

I'd like to share another fine recipe of my mother's - - her spaghetti sauce. It is sooooo good. When my parents were preparing to come out to Idaho for Griffin's birth, my mom asked me if there was anything I'd like her to cook for me while they were here, and this is what I requested. Yesterday, I made a big batch, and am freezing it in blocks and vacuum sealing it for easy meals later.

Roberta's Spaghetti Sauce

2 pounds ground beef (you can also use ground turkey, if you like)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce
2 cans (7.5 ounces each) tomato paste
1 can (7.5 ounces) sliced black olives
2 envelopes (1.5 ounces each) Italian-style spaghetti sauce mix)
3 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf

Cook and stir ground beef, onion, and green pepper until meat is brown and onion is tender. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.

After it has cooled, I spoon it into small loaf pans (the bottom of the pan measures 2.5"x5"), then freeze until solid. The small loaf pan freezes a portion a little over two servings, so it is perfect for Steve, Camden, and myself. Pop them out of the pan, and vacuum seal, one block per bag, like this:

When you are ready to use it, all you have to do is toss the bag into a pot of boiling water until it is thawed out and heated through. Delish, and so much better than jarred sauce from the store.

At this very moment, I have a cooking disaster on my hands. This morning, I prepared some Honey Wheat bread dough in my bread machine. I prefer to bake my bread in the oven, rather than in the bread machine, so I kneaded the loaf and put it in the pan, and popped it in to my gently warmed oven, so it could rise for 30 minutes. Well, I forgot it was there. That poor loaf has been rising for 4+ hours. When I removed it from the oven, it promptly sank. I'm still baking it, on the off chance it will be salvageable, but I'm guessing I'll be making another loaf of bread this evening. Drats.

Camden and I got the Easter decorations out this afternoon. I think we'll attempt to make some sugar eggs this year. These are the eggs made out of sugar that you can look into, and see a little Easter scene. I made some a few years ago, and they were so much fun. I think Camden will get a kick out of it. Must Google a recipe for the molding sugar.

Steve has been on orders this week, so that he could get caught up on some work at the armory. I talked to him a couple of hours ago, and he's wishing he could remain on orders for a few more weeks. Between company command and his civilian army job, it is like having two full-time jobs, so he's a busy boy. He's declared this weekend "family fun weekend", so I'm looking forward to that. He's been busy the past few weekends, getting the rental ready, but this weekend we are just going to hang out and have fun. Tomorrow morning, I'm taking off by myself to do a little shopping, to leisurely sip some coffee (a nonfat decaf cinnamon mocha, to be exact) and rejuvenate myself, after putting in lots and lots of busy hours mothering my boys.

For those of you who asked, these are stemless wine glasses. Just like a regular wine glass, only without a stem. Love them. Unfortunately, this photo also shows how stained my glass top range is. Does anyone else have a glass top range, and if so, how do you get the dark stains around the burners, off? I've tried Easy Off Glass Top Range cleaner - - it doesn't work, much to my dismay. Last, but not least, here's Griffin, flexing his new found neck muscles.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Virtual Tour

This is our old house, which is now our rental property. To the right, you can just barely see the side of the house we live in now. We have new tenants moving in today, so while I was cleaning the rental yesterday, I took some pictures of the inside. It was a great little house, but a bit too small for us, now. It was built around 1914, and is about 1,400 square feet. Steve has done a lot to it since purchasing it in 1999. I wish I'd taken some pictures of the "early years". The first year or so after we were married, the kitchen sink drained into a 5-gallon bucket that we had to empty in the back yard whenever it would get full. The bathroom had no sink, and no walls, and no door. At one point, I stapled old sheets around the framing (yes, that was also for a year or so). For quite some time, the kitchen had no floor, just boards laying across the joists, and we had to step over the holes. I could go on and on but I'll spare you the details. I can tell you that my parents came to visit us about 5 months after I moved to Idaho, and I think they nearly lost their minds when they saw our house!
This picture is taken from the dining area, looking toward the front door of the house. I included this one especially for my parents, who have been dying to see the hardwood floors, now that they have been refinished. The entire 5 years we lived in the house, the floors had no finish on them - - they looked like they were dirty all the time. Now, they are beautiful! Steve and his father did all the sanding and refinishing themselves. That's Griffin, waiting by the door! The doorway on the left was Camden's bedroom. There is another doorway directly across from that one, which was our bedroom.
This picture was taken from the front door, looking toward the kitchen. We had our table there in front of the french doors. Around the corner (by the stepladder) is the kitchen. The doorway on the left is the third bedroom/office. The doorway to the left of the french doors leads to the bathroom and laundry room. The kitchen. Yes, I purposely painted the cabinets green! A couple views of the bathroom. Boy do I miss that deep, antique claw foot bathtub.
Looking into the third bedroom/office. While we lived in the house, this room was never finished. In fact, it had no floor or ceiling, and was closed off from the rest of the house. I'm sure my folks remember the pink blanket that use to be stapled to the door frame. Inside the third bedroom/office. That's my handsome assistant, Camden McLean.Inside our old bedroom. The windows look out on the front yard and the side of the house.
A couple of views of Camden's old room. As you can see, it had tons of storage space - - I loved the closets in his room.
We're happy with our new tenants. They seem like a very nice family. We hope they last longer than our first tenants!
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