Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mmmmmm.....Homemade Granola

Have you ever made your own granola? It is sooooo easy. I promise you, there are few things that smell better on a cold winter day, than granola baking in your oven. You can easily customize granola to suit your tastes, and no, it does not have to be laden with oil to taste good. The batch that I baked today was chock full of apricots, cranberries, raisins, raw sunflower seeds, and almonds. It was sweetened with pure maple syrup, rather than honey, which the recipe I usually use calls for. This was a new recipe, from Stonewall Kitchen Favorites, which I've mentioned here before. It is a spectacular cookbook full of easy, satisfying recipes. I'm not going to share the recipe with you though, because I'm going to share the whole cookbook with you instead. That's right...welcome to my first contest! I've been wanting to hold a contest for quite a while, as a means of thanking all of you for reading my blog. This time around, I'm going to keep things very simple, but in the future, be prepared to get a bit creative! So, if you would like to enter to win a brand new copy (sorry, it isn't autographed, even though the link says it is) of Stonewall Kitchen Favorites, just leave a comment on this post. One comment per person, please, and you have until Wednesday, February 6th to do so. You don't have to say anything beyond, "I want that cookbook!" for those of you who are comment-shy. Also, you do not need to have a Google account to comment, however, if you use the "anonymous" option when commenting, please be sure to include your first name in your comment, so that I can identify you if you win. Please feel free to pass this along to anyone that you think might be interested. A winner will be drawn at random from all of the entries, on Friday, February 8th at 6:00 p.m. (Mountain Time), and posted here on my blog immediately following. Good luck!

***This contest is now closed***

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Those Winter Blahs

I've tried very hard to avoid the Winter Blahs this year, but I'm afraid they are catching up to me. I am a sunshine girl, and I need my daily dose, or things start to go downhill. That is where I find myself today, after a very long week or so of sick kids, bad weather, an absent husband, and pretty much no interaction with another adult. The only thing I ever really miss about working outside of the home is that daily interaction with other women (oh - - and the free will to pop over to Java for a mocha, or to the Co-op for lunch, if I'm so inclined). I just looked up the 10-day forecast, and it doesn't look like the weather will be improving anytime soon, so I guess I'd better get a grip, hadn't I? I still struggle with trying to obtain balance in my life - - I wish so badly I could accomplish all of my mothering and household responsibilities, but then have just a smidge of time left over for myself, to focus on something that is just for me. In the grand scheme of things, my whining is silly, really...but every now and then it catches up to me and I wind up in this state of mind.

Camden's Nana and Papa give him a gift subscription to a great magazine called Your Big Back Yard, and yesterday the boys and I tackled a little craft project that was included in this month's issue. Basically, the project was an octopus, made from a tennis ball, felt, Velcro, and a set of "googly eyes". Both Camden and Griffin made one, but it has been non-stop drama ever since, because Riley cannot stand the fact that the head of the octopus is made out of a tennis ball. Riley keeps stealing the octopi (is that the plural of octopus??), which is followed by screaming and fit-throwing, as you can well imagine.


I always find cooking to be very therapeutic, so today I will be making Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti. My cousin Linda made it and liked it, so I thought I should try that next. The other night I made Pioneer Woman's Pinto Beans and Cornbread, and it was delicious.

*I just had about 25 minutes of panic, because the electricity went out. Luckily, there is power surging through the house, once again. Phew!*

I'd like to end this post by wishing my wonderful father a very happy birthday. Camden called and sang to him this morning, but we sure do wish we could just drive over and hang out with him today. Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Something to Think About

I don't know what any of your thoughts have been, regarding the untimely passing of Heath Ledger - - maybe you've thought about it and maybe you haven't, but I came across a beautiful post on another blog today that I wanted to link you all to.

The Princess, The Cowboy, and the Narrative of Footprints

Thank you, Her Bad Mother, your post was lovely.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Let the Good Times Roll

This is what you will find in my bathroom at any given time, if you come to my home, because someone has a bit of a *ahem* toilet paper problem. At least 37.4 times per day, I find myself "re-rolling" the toilet paper. I generally keep the door closed, to keep Griffin out, but he manages to sneak in throughout the day and do his damage. He also has a thing for grabbing on to the roll, and then heading for the door. That rascal - - he keeps me hopping. As I have mentioned before, he has a penchant for all things naughty - - climbing furniture, pestering the dog (as well as his older brother), throwing random objects into the garbage can, dancing a jig on the coffee table, and shrieking like a small school girl when he doesn't get his way. We're having a difficult time understanding the workings of his little mind. I've had many people tell me that the second child pays you back for the fact that your first child was mild-mannered, so I am a bit concerned.

I kept Camden home from school today again, since he still has a nasty cough and runny nose (but is still a Royal Prince, as evident in the picture to the right). Griffin seems to be on the upswing today, just in time for me to have a killer sore throat. I would really love to just let the saliva dribble out of the side of my mouth, since swallowing hurts so much, but I suppose that wouldn't be very lady-like. Another thing I would like is a sick day, but I think I forfeited those when I became a mother. Waaaaaa! Mind over matter, Heather! Mind over matter!

I've recently stumbled upon a new blog that I am madly in love with, so go ahead and check it out. It is called "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman", and it is so much fun to read. She also has a second blog called "The Pioneer Woman Cooks", and I can tell you that I have made her lasagna, as well as her Oatmeal Crispie cookies, and both were excellent. Her writing is hilarious, her photography is gorgeous, and boy can she cook.

Now, please excuse me - - I need to go and re-roll my toilet paper.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Plans Derailed

Tonight, my dear husband was going to take me out for sushi. Without the children. Just the two of us. Mind you, this doesn't happen very often in these parts - - going out in public and acting like adults, that is. I do believe the last time we went out for date night was last September. Sad, but true. Oh, how I have been dreaming of sushi all week long! Alas, it was not meant to be. Instead, I spent the day with one very sick baby boy. By late afternoon, it became apparent that Camden was following right behind Griffin. Sore throat, nagging cough, runny nose and all. I shudder at the thought of what tonight will be like, because last night, neither of us slept much, since the kids didn't sleep much. As for today, I did a lot of baby-carrying, which eventually turned into baby-wearing, when I finally wised up and remembered I had a baby sling. Yes, I purposely cut my head off in this photo, because I was still in my pajamas at lunch time, which means I 'twernt lookin' too purdy. I finally had an opportunity to get dressed around 2:00 today (I know, what was the point, that late in the day). My rationale was that I had to run to the store, and while I've let quite a few things slide since becoming a mother, I refuse to wear my jammies and slippers to the store, although it seems to be a popular thing to do in this town. So, no date night for us tonight. Instead, Steve whipped up some delicious chicken, stuffed with spinach, garlic, feta cheese, roasted red peppers, and pesto. Oh my goodness - - delicious. It was almost like a real date night, only with two little guys, drooling, whimpering, and covered in boogers, instead of ambiance, California rolls, and romance. Okay, so it wasn't like date night at all, but the chicken sure was good.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

House Arrest

That's what I've been under, my friends, and the unrelenting warden's name is Camden. From the time I uttered, "Why, yes! I'll make you a Royal Prince costume!" I have heard nothing but, "Are you sewing my costume, Mummy? Are you? Is it done yet? When will it be done? Can I try it on yet? Can I? WHEN can I? When are you going to finish it? WHEN??!!?" Alas, I am happy to report that the project was completed this afternoon, rudimentary though it may be. Camden picked the colors himself, and informed me that "Royal Princes ALWAYS have yellow shirts, Mummy!" He told me that his name is "Prince Softlow" - - I'm not sure how he came up with that name, but I'm not about to question him, for he is a boy who knows what he wants and/or means. Seriously, I love his vivid imagination, and I will always encourage it. He's very excited to surprise his Daddy at the airport tomorrow afternoon, in full Royal Prince attire. I love this shot of the boys together...another instance of Griffin sneaking into the frame, just as I was taking the picture.
So we survived the week, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't really, really tired! I cannot get over how draining stay-at-home momhood is at this point in time. Both of these little rascals are so full of it all day long! I'm realizing just now that I've been up for 15 hours now, and, with the exception of meals, this is the first time I've really sat down today! On the flip side, we have had such a fun, full week. While I've made a major breakthrough with Griffin's sleeping (he goes to bed easily, but has always woken up multiple times per night - - this week, he's woken up once and put himself back to sleep, or hasn't woken up at all, ALL week), Camden has not slept well at all. Once I put them down at 7:30, Camden gets up multiple times, and then inevitably, ends up in bed with me. He tends to get nervous when Steve is out of town, and doesn't sleep well. Adding to that, we were sitting around watching home movies last weekend, and at one point, Sadie was suddenly on the screen. Since then, Camden has cried multiple times about her, and I just wish I could figure out what to do about it. Tonight, I found him crying in bed, and he said, "I just wish she could come back, Mummy." Ugh, can you hear my heart breaking?

In anticipation of Steve's return tomorrow, I figured I'd better get busy and make the man some brownies. I must admit, I've always been a "brownie mix" kind of girl, but I'm determined to find the perfect "from scratch" recipe. I love food blogs as well as food websites, and have quite a lineup of brownie recipes to try out on him. The first recipe I'm trying comes from Everyday Food magazine (one of my favorites), called Super-Fudgy Brownies. Lining the pan with parchment paper made removing them from the pan a snap, and enabled me to slice them into perfect bars. I'm afraid some of the edges may be too dry, but next time I'll just cut the cooking time by a few minutes. They look to be very dense and chewy - - we'll see what Steve has to say about them tomorrow.

I leave you with one last photo, of my sweet Griffin, who loves to stand on his changing table and look out the window, every time he's finished having his diaper changed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Busy Week

Steve is on the East coast this week, for military business, and we miss him. The week feels as though it is flying by, and I suspect it is because these two little guys are keeping me very busy! The week started with dentist appointments for both boys - - this was Griffin's first visit to Dr. Streeby, and although he wasn't completely excited about being there, it wasn't like going to the pediatrician (thank goodness). Camden had another excellent appointment, and had more x-rays taken of his "super tooth" (instead of just a baby front tooth with a permanent tooth behind it, he has those two, plus a third tooth behind that!). Unfortunately, the super tooth is already beginning to crowd out his other teeth. He will have to have it surgically removed in 1-2 years, and the dentist said we can expect some orthodontia in the coming years. Oh well!

Yesterday was full with Story Time in the morning, and then school in the afternoon for Camden. This morning, we had a play date that was so much fun, we all lost track of time! When we finally looked at the clock, it was 15 minutes before Camden was to be at school, so we did some major scrambling in order to eat lunch and get there on time. Now, Griffin is napping, and I am baking some bread, but am about to head downstairs for my daily date with the treadmill.

Camden has decided that he needs a "Royal Prince" costume, so yesterday we went to the fabric store, and will start that project this afternoon. He is wanting to wear the finished product to the airport when we pick Steve up on Friday afternoon, so I'm sure there will be some interesting pictures to post soon!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things: Vintage Pyrex

Back in December, in a post about my growing love for thrift stores, I mentioned a small, vintage Pyrex refrigerator dish that I'd found at my local thrift store. I fear that particular finding has led to a bit of an obsession with vintage Pyrex. Oh my goodness, I love it. The good news is, this is a very cheap obsession. I've found just a handful of pieces over the last month, and have spent a grand total of $7.50. I can't say for sure what the lure is for me - - I've always been somewhat obsessed with people, places, and things from the past (i.e., my Little House on the Prairie Obsession, my Norlands Living History Center Obsession, my James Dean Obsession, to name just a few). With Pyrex, I love the look of it, but mostly, I love the idea that someone owned the piece for years and years, and maybe made their favorite casserole in it every Sunday. Anyway, onto the Pyrex:

This is a 1.5 quart refrigerator dish in dark green olive, in mint condition, which will be perfect for my favorite Shepherd's Pie recipe.
This is an 8.5" Cinderella bowl ,in Early American print. with handle and pouring spout, again, in mint condition.

I also found this 10" Early American Cinderella bowl. Love it!

Yes, there are other people who are as weird as I am, because there is a whole web site dedicated to vintage Pyrex, called Pyrex Love.

One last thing I wanted to share - - while at a thrift store the other day, in search of Pyrex, of course, I came across an interesting little bowl/jar with a lid, about the size of a coffee can. I was drawn to it because it had cherries on it, and I love anything with a cherry motif. I noticed a Fire King marking on the bottom of it, and I remembered reading about Fire King when I was reading about Pyrex. It was only $1.50, so I bought it. When I got home, I quickly looked it up on the Internet, so I could learn more about it. Come to find out, it is part of a Fire King Range Set - - this piece is the grease jar - - and it is valued between $70 and $120! Yikes! If it had had the matching salt and pepper shakers with it, it would have been valued at $200!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Possum's Honey Bread

Last year, our library gave away a bunch of old books that apparently hadn't been checked out in a very long time. We grabbed a bunch of them to add to our collection, and there was a real gem in the bunch. How to Make Possum's Honey Bread by Carla Stevens was published in 1975. This particular copy shows hardly any wear, and I just can't believe it! It is the cutest little story about Possum spending the day, teaching his friends how to make honey bread. Everyone joins in except Raccoon, who decides to fish by himself. He does a little pouting about the fact that he can't make honey bread as well as Possum can. He finally gives in and tries some of Possum's bread, and finishes the day by going fishing with his friend Woodchuck. All through the story, Possum gives instructions on how to make his bread. The recipe, along with some variations, are included in the back. Of course, Camden was intent on making some of Possum's bread, so that is what we did after he came home from school yesterday. Camden just loved pouring all the ingredients into the bowl, stirring and kneading, and then watching the bread rise.

Reading the recipe

Stirring the sticky dough

Kneading the dough (you'll notice that between stirring and kneading, Camden "disrobed". Apparently he didn't want to be restricted in any way.

The finished product - - delicious, by the way. Camden gets an A+ for his first attempt at bread baking

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Snow, etc.

It has been snowing all day long. I don't believe I've seen this much snow since I moved to Idaho in 2001. We usually get a dusting from time to time, but not anything that really ever sticks. I love it! I wish it would stay like this all month! Winter vacation is over with, so Camden headed back to school today - - needless to say, he was very excited when he woke up this morning.

I had a great time during my "evening away" on Saturday. I didn't really do much except relax, which is what I needed to do, so that was great. One thing I realized, during my almost 24 hours of solitude, is that I tend to get very out of touch with my own interests and things like that. So in the spirit of the new year, I'm making an effort to have some "alone" time every week, and do something just for myself. We'll see how long that lasts! Seriously though, I think I'd be a far better wife and mother if I could be better at that. After I checked out of the hotel on Saturday, I drove over to Hyde Park for breakfast, and it was beautiful. Snow covered everything. Of course I had to go to Java for a bagel and cream cheese, and a 16 oz. mocha. Nobody makes them like Java does...not even Starbucks, if you can believe that!

This week will be over with before I know it, with Camden back in school. The boys and I will head to Boise on Friday for a doctor appointment and some errands, and then we'll enjoy the weekend with Steve before he heads to the East coast for a week, for work.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


I'm currently snuggled up in a king-size bed at the Owyhee Plaza Hotel, complements of my dear husband, who surprised me last night by letting me know that he'd arranged a night away for me...JUST me...all by myself. He did this for me last August, too, and it was wonderful. If you weren't convinced earlier this week, when I told you how wonderful Steve is, then believe it now! I left my boys earlier this afternoon, and headed for Boise, making a couple of stops along the way. I picked up a yummy sandwich at the Co-op for supper, and made my way here and checked in. I haven't moved a muscle since! I've been reading, journaling, organizing my brain, and yes, enjoying the cable t.v. (we don't have cable at home, so, unfortunately, when I'm near cable, I binge). Oh, and sipping champagne...can't forget the champagne. This is just what I needed to re-charge my batteries and have a lovely start to 2008. Thank you, Steve - - I love you more than words can say.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

What Doesn't Kill You, Makes You Stronger

So, when I am 80 years old, and I'm the strongest woman you've ever known, I'll have Griffin to thank for that. The boy is a wee bit crazy. He is 15 months old now, and full of it (the definition of "it" changes from day to day, I might add). It boggles my mind when I think about how Steve was in Iraq when Camden was this age - - he left when Camden had just turned one, and came back when he was 2 1/2. Seriously though, Camden never acted the way Griffin acts! I swear! He was such a mild-mannered little guy. Oh, but Griffin. Right now, I find myself in a rather unpleasant phase where I have a 4 1/2 year old who wants/needs/deserves lots of attention from Mummy, but thrown into the mix is a lunatic 1-year old who spends his entire day (5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) standing in chairs, climbing on top of tables, throwing random objects into the trash (over and over and over), touching the toilet, pinching his older brother, and basically making a general nuisance of himself. I find it increasingly difficult to meet the needs of my children, manage a household, and remain sane on a daily basis. Okay, so maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but not much!

Remember that wonderful guy I wrote about yesterday? Well, he called at 7:30 this morning, asking me to come pick him up, because he was feeling rather ill. It takes quite a bit for Steve to admit that he doesn't feel well, so I figured he must be coming apart at the seams. Instead of feeling concerned for the poor man's well-being, I was instead concerned for my own well-being, being the vomit-phobe that I am. I knew I was going to have to drive an hour back home with him in the passenger seat. I'm happy to report that he didn't barf on me, and he actually seems to be just fine now. I did mention to him that I found it a tad bit suspicious, when I ventured down to the guest room to check on him, that he almost had a look of glee on his face, snuggled up in bed, surrounded by boat building books, and a couple of copies of Wooden Boat magazine.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Have I Mentioned How Great My Husband Is?

I'm pretty sure I have, but it is worth repeating. Seriously, he is such a good father. Yesterday, I felt the need to get out of the house (more on that, later). So, I loaded Griffin into the car and off we went to WalMart, followed by a visit to Starbucks, for the standard Decaf Tall Nonfat Cinnamon Dolce Mocha. Anyway, while I was gone, Camden had Steve hopping. First, they colored in Camden's new coloring book. Then, they made a parachute (a very detailed one, I might add) for one of Camden's Batman figures. Then, Camden decided he needed a fire for the fort he and Steve had built out of sofa cushions, earlier in the day. So, here's what Steve fashioned:Please note the little string coming out of the top, with cotton balls stuck to it, for the "smoke". I mean, really. I'd like to think that I can be creative on a semi-regular basis, but Steve puts me to shame. When it comes to the boys, he has so much patience, and will do basically anything they want when it comes to playing. If that isn't enough, the man gets up at 4:15 in the morning, leaves for work at 5:30 a.m., and doesn't return until 5:30 p.m. He comes through the door and from then until 7:30, when the boys go to bed, he is directing 95% of his attention toward them. To prove my point, here's what Steve is doing right now, as I compose this blog post:

Sound too good to be true? I assure you...all true. Camden and Griffin are so lucky to have Steve for a father. And, yes, he's as good a husband as he is a dad. He makes me crazy sometimes, but I promise you, I make him crazier. Many of you who read this blog, do not know Steve at all - - probably the first and last time you ever laid eyes on him was at our wedding. I hope one day you'll have the pleasure of knowing him. He is a good man, and I am the luckiest girl in the world.

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