Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Pictures

Life is feeling a bit hectic at the moment, so until I get a chance to sit down and do some writing, here are some recent pictures:

My baby turns two

Griffin's "motorcycle happy cake" - - whenever I asked him what kind of birthday cake he wanted, that was his answer

Our sweet Banzer

The boys with their Papa (we miss you, Papa!!)

Canoe ride with Daddy


And finally, Griffie with his microphone. The boy likes to belt out the tunes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Froodie

When I get up in the morning, I like to throw the following things into my blender:

1 apple
1 banana
a couple splashes of soy milk
a few spoonfuls of plain, low fat yogurt
a heaping tablespoon of ground flax seed
a handful of ice cubes
a drizzle of agave nectar

Blend it all up and what you get is a very nutritious, tasty, satisfying smoothie, or a "froodie," according to Griffin. Griffin thinks smoothies are delicious, but he hates my blender. In his defense, my blender sounds like a small jet engine. It is getting so that now when I announce that it is time for breakfast, Griffin says, "MUMMY, DON'T MAKE THE FROODIE!" Luckily, as soon as the blender is off, he's asking for some.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's a Beautiful Noise

I still use this baby monitor, as a way of "monitoring" my little heathens when they are downstairs in the play room. Camden has recently taken a liking to using at a paging system -- "MUMMY? CAN I HAVE A SNACK?" - I swear, he presses his little lips right up against the one down in the basement, and at times I can't even tell what he is asking because it is so garbled.

My father is here in Idaho for an impromptu visit, and we are all so happy to have him here! The other day, Camden and his Papa went down to the family room, and I realized the monitor was on. I left it on, because I loved listening to the two of them playing together. I guess I should clarify and say that Camden did most of the talking - - my dad couldn't have gotten a word in edgewise if he'd wanted to. This went on for well over an hour as they played with trains, and Camden monologued about every last detail of train construction. At one point, I snuck downstairs to get a look at what was going on.

It is hard to live so far away from our parents. Before I had children, I worried that they would grow up having a distant relationship with their grandparents at best, because how do you foster closeness when both sets of grandparents are on the East coast, while we are out here? Luckily, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Nana, Papa, Gramma, and Grampa are a part of our every-day life here. The boys love and know their grandparents, probably even better than some children who have full access to their grandparents. This makes me very, very happy. Life is good.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Homemade Pizza Tutorial

For the past two years, I've been making homemade pizza for dinner, every Friday night. Although I love to make dinner for my family, I find myself getting excited each Friday when I realize it is "pizza night", because it is such an easy dinner to prepare - - it almost makes me feel like I have the night off from cooking. Besides that, it is sooo much better than any frozen pizza pizza you'll buy, and much cheaper than take-out.

I had a lot of comments on my post about Chicago Deep Dish Pizza last week, so I thought I would take you through the simple process, so that you can try it for yourself.

The method I use requires a bread machine, because I am a bread machine kind of girl, and I make no excuses for it! I realize that there are some bread purists out there who don't think that bread made with the aid of a machine is "real" bread. I beg to differ (and I'm pretty sure my husband and children would, too)! I've had my $35.00 bread machine for 7 years, and it is just starting to wear out on me. That's pretty good, considering that I use it 2-3 times per week. Check your local thrift shop, too - - I see bread machines there all the time, usually for $5.00 or so.

I have always made whole wheat crust, with added oats and flax, but a few weeks ago I came across a great recipe for white crust. Now I'm rotating that with my wheat crust, every other week.

Okay, on to the pizza. Here is what you'll need:

1 1/3 cup warm water

2 tsp. sugar

1 1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. corn meal (plus more for dusting pizza pans)

3 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1 1/2 tsp. yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine in order listed. Select "dough" cycle. When the cycle is complete, remove dough from pan. Punch down, and divide into two equal portions.

Roll each portion out and place onto pizza pan that has been dusted with cornmeal. Twist or pinch the edges to form the crust border. Then, prick the crust with a fork to prevent bubbles (Griffie likes to help with this part).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Par bake each crust for 8 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with tomato sauce, cheese, and anything else you'd like. Camden and Griffin love turkey pepperoni on their pizza. Steve and I like pesto and fresh mozzarella, or artichoke hearts and feta...obviously the combos are endless. Pop back in the oven for 10 minutes, or until crust is browned to your liking, and cheese is bubbly.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Changes & Thoughts

Notice anything different? I am so loving my new blog banner, and it is all thanks to Renee at Thompson Designs. I just couldn't be happier with what she came up with. So, if you are like me and want something beautiful for your blog banner, please pay her a visit over at Etsy. Thank you so much, Renee!! I am still working on background color, fonts, etc., so you will probably see some more changes over the next few days, although I think I have it how I want it for the most part.

I'm sure by now you have heard the story of Stephanie and Christian Nielsen - - it has been circulating on the Internet, as well as through national media over the past month. I've been following this story for a couple of weeks now, and just cannot seem to stop thinking about them, and their four small children. If you've never had the pleasure of visiting Stepanie's blog, please take a little time to do so, and look around through the archives too - - what I find so endearing about her blog is that she celebrates being a mother, a homemaker, and a wife, and I love that. There are a gazillion "mommy blogs" out there, but it often seems the majority of them tend to be negative for the most part (complaining about motherhood, husbands, etc.). It is so refreshing to read about someone who truly finds joy in motherhood, marriage, and life in general. I pray that Stephanie will be back to blogging someday soon. You'll notice that I've added a "Nie Recovery" button along the right hand side of my blog - - this will take you to the Nie Recovery website. There, you can read about Stephanie and Christian, as well as all kinds of ways that you can lend a hand to this family that is in desperate need right now. It is absolutely amazing, the outpouring of support that has been offered up to them. You can also click on the "c me read cjane" button - - this will take you to Stephanie's sister Courtney's blog. She is currently caring for three of Stephanie and Christian's four children, and she posts daily updates about the Nielsen's condition.

Today, I am loving my "NieNie Necklace", which arrived in today's mail - - it was made by a wonderful artist named Summer Lynn Allen. She is donating a portion of the sales from this necklace to Stephanie and Christian, which is just wonderful.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Congratulations, Linda!

That's right, Linda! You are the winner of my Oprah giveaway! Yay, Linda!

Thanks for playing, everyone!

Remember These?

I use to love these when I was little! I bought a package of wax fangs for the boys the other day...Camden wouldn't touch them because he'd never seen such a thing before, and well, that's just how Camden rolls. Griffin, however, thought they were awesome. So awesome, in fact, that he wore them to the post office, and then to the grocery store.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Something to Try: Homemade Pancake Syrup

I don't know about you, but we go through quite a bit of pancake syrup in this house. I have two little boys who love nothing more than homemade waffles and pancakes. While I love pure maple syrup, it isn't exactly cost-effective, at the rate we use it. I was so happy to find a recipe for homemade pancake syrup on one of my favorite blogs recently, so I thought I would give it a try. It did not disappoint! Don't be scared by the amount of sugar in the recipe -- keep in mind this is syrup, for goodness sakes! Syrup has lots of sugar, people! Everything in moderation, folks. Please feel free, however, to be scared when you read the list of ingredients on the back of a bottle of pancake and waffle syrup from your local market (ahem...high fructose corn syrup, cellulose gum, salt, artificial flavors, sodium hexametaphosphate...huh?). I just love the slight hint of molasses flavor in this syrup...so good. I'm pretty sure I'll never buy pancake syrup again!

*I had to add a photo of this little set that I recently thrifted...I love these little pitchers so much I could kiss them all over. One for butter, one for batter, one for syrup. So retro and so cute, in my opinion, of course! I can't wait to use them tomorrow morning!

Monday, September 15, 2008


How joyful to be together, alone
as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we know
each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now
we touch each other with the tenderness
of mortals, who know themselves...
- Wendell Berry

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Something New: Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (and a giveaway!)

Ever since experiencing my first real Chicago deep-dish pizza last week, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it...oh goodness, was it ever delicious. So I decided I'd better try making one myself. I paid a visit to my trusty friend, Google (who answers all of my burning questions), and I decided to try this recipe. I threw all of the ingredients into my bread machine and set it on the "dough" cycle.

The verdict: This recipe produced a lovely dough that was smooth, soft, and so very easy to work with. I used coarse-ground cornmeal, which gave it a very distinctive crunch. The next time I make this, however, I will make some minor adjustments. First, I will add some crushed garlic, and possible some basil and oregano to the dough. While the dough was good, it seemed to be missing something in the flavor department. Second, I think I will try using a couple of 9" or 10" spring form pans to bake it in. This time, I used 8" cake pans, and as you can see, the dough kind of took on a mind of its own when baked. Please also note, I halved the recipe, and I still got two pizzas out of it. I didn't have much on hand by way of toppings, so I'm looking forward to trying fresh mozzarella, pesto, and a bunch of fresh veggies. The boys really enjoyed this pizza, and I am looking forward to making some for Steve, to get his opinion.

Speaking of Chicago, I nearly forgot that I promised a little giveaway last week! I picked up a couple of goodies at The Oprah Store, so if you'd like a little package to arrive on your doorstep, then please leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, September 17th at 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time. A winner will be drawn at random using Random.org. Up for grabs? I super-duper soft pair of mint green "O" footies, an Oprah note card, and a great little key chain (which can easily be made into an ornament, if you so desire) that was made in South Africa. That Oprah puts her money where her mouth is! Good luck!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Eating My Words

You may recall how boastful I was, just a few short posts ago, because my almost-two-year-old had moved into his big boy bed, easy as you please. The honeymoon lasted all of about 48 hours, and since that time we've had various escape attempts, lots of whimpering, a smattering of crying, and yes, even some fit-throwing. Griffin has truly always gone to bed and down for naps so easily. I swear. Now, though, he wants to be rocked, or he wants to "rub hair", or have a puppet show...or anything else he can come up with to stall out on me. It makes me crazy because I much prefer put him down wide awake, so that he can put himself to sleep. I feel as though he gets better rest that way, and well, I just think it is better for him.

Steve, molly-coddling his boy a couple of weeks ago, because he is The Best Daddy in the World

Anyway, we are getting there - - we are having days here and there when he goes down without a struggle. So, I am hopeful that this too shall pass. Today though....oh my. Today my boys were a couple of hyenas. On crack. They were wresting, bickering, crying, stomping, shouting, etc., ALL. DAY. LONG. By 5:00 p.m. I'd really had it, so as you can imagine, when bed time rolled around at 7:30 p.m., I was in no mood to mess around. After Griffin got out of bed for the third time, which was followed by his older brother asking if you could have a "little snack", I did what any mother who is over-tired, and whose husband is out of town until next Monday would do:

I threw them both in my bed, where I didn't hear another peep out of either one of them. Sometimes, you've gotta do what you've gotta do!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


We're in the midst of a bit of a Toy Story obsession these days. While in Chicago, I happened upon this Buzz Lightyear costume, and immediately thought of a little boy who would lose his marbles over such a get-up. I've mentioned it before - - Camden is my costume boy. He loves to dress up. The unfortunate thing about this particular Buzz Lightyear costume is that it is mostly polyurethane, so it is like a teeny-tiny personal sauna. Camden doesn't care though -- I have to force him out of the thing (and then mop up all the sweat). Camden was going to be an airplane for Halloween, but now, of course, he's going to be Buzz. We are currently in the process of piecing together a Woody costume for his little brother, because Camden claims if he is going to be Buzz, then Griffin has to be Woody. All that being said, Halloween is still two months away, so who knows what Camden will be into by that point!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Chicago Re-Cap

I'm back in Idaho and had a fabulous time in Chicago. It's hard to sum it all up, but I'll give you a quick run-down of the highlights. We certainly managed to pack quite a bit into less than two days. My flight out to Chicago went smoothly. When I landed at Midway Airport, I found the train station and hopped on the Orange Line to make my way to the Washington/Wells station. Once there, I emerged from the station, right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the busy city. It has been a long time since I have been in a big city. There is just something about all that activity that is so exciting to me. I also love being somewhere unfamiliar, and having to find my way to a destination. I walked a little over seven blocks in what turned out to be some very impractical sandals (a mistake I am still paying for...ouch!). When I arrived at our hotel, my mom and aunt were standing at the front desk checking in. We headed out for dinner at a wonderful Greek restaurant called Athena, where we enjoyed tzatziki, spanakopita, chicken Diana, and a round of gin and tonics. Jen arrived at the hotel a little after 11:00 p.m. and we proceeded to chat until after 1:00 a.m.

The next morning it was time to start seeing the sights. We began with a trip to Oprah's new store, which sits across the street from Harpo Studios. The store was full of great clothing, books, gifts, baby clothes, journals, etc., as well as many beautiful things from South Africa. There was a line of clothing from Oprah's Leadership Academy for Girls, and all of the clothing was manufactured in South Africa, which was nice to see! In one of the corners of the store was "Oprah's Closet", full of clothes and shoes from Oprah's actual closet, which were for sale. All of the proceeds from this go to the Angel Network. Anyway, after we were all shopped out, we grabbed a cab and headed to Gino's East for some Chicago deep dish pizza. Sooooo good. In case you aren't familiar with Chicago deep dish, the crust has quite a bit of cornmeal in it, as well as more oil than a typical crust, resulting in a wonderfully textured, crunchy pie (I've been scouring the Internet for the perfect recipe, and plan to make one this weekend). Next, it was off to the Magnificent Mile for some shopping. Oh, the stores. We managed to mostly look, and only really splurged on some Kiehl's lip gloss. Next, we hit the beach to dip our feet in Lake Michigan (check out all the bandaids). If I hadn't known any better, I would have thought I was at the ocean. The sand felt so good between my toes, and the water was warm! Next, we went to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock Observatory. The view was amazing, and the martinis were very good! After heading back to the hotel, we walked over to Pegasus Restaurant to share some appetizers. Then it was time for some frantic packing and ironing, in preparation for our very early departure for Oprah in the morning. We arrived at Harpo Studios at 6:00 a.m., and waited in a hallway until a little after 6:30, when we were checked through security and led upstairs, where we waited until around 8:00 a.m., when we were let into the studio. We ended up getting really great seats in the center. It was fun to see the crew scurrying around, preparing the studio for filming. A woman from the audience team came out and told us that we would actually be seeing two show tapings, instead of one, so that was a great surprise. The first show was about the power of forgiveness, and was centered around this story. Lisa Ling was also there, as she did the reporting for this particular story. If you happen to see this show when it airs, it will really cause you to stop and think about any petty grudges you may be holding, and how much energy it takes to be angry and bitter. When the taping was over, Oprah ran and changed her clothes, the set got changed around a bit, and we started all over again. This time (be still my beating heart) was Dr. Oz! I was so excited because I really love when he is a guest. The show was about medical stories that made news over the summer, as well as viewer questions for Dr. Oz. Really neat to watch. Once the taping was over, I had to quickly grab a cab so that I could rush to the hotel to get my luggage, and then grab another cab to the airport. My mom and aunt were getting items from coat check, so I didn't get to say goodbye to them, unfortunately. Jen came with me back to the hotel, so we squeezed in a quick goodbye, and I was on my way! I arrived back in Idaho in time for dinner last night. It was so good to see all three of my boys, and they all did very well while I was gone. Steve, as always, did a fine job of caring for everyone. Thanks, honey!
With Jenny, at Harpo Studios!

After some massive Oprah shopping

With our old friend, The Soup Nazi, at Gino's East

My sweet Mummy, on the beach

Dipping our feet in Lake Michigan

View from the beach

Cocktails at the Signature Lounge

All gone!

***Stay tuned...I'll be having a giveway in the next few days with some treats from The Oprah Store!***

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I Love Chicago!

We are all here, enjoying beautiful Chicago! We've just returned to our hotel after a full day of shopping, sight-seeing, and people-watching. We are so excited to go to Harpo Studios tomorrow morning! Chicago is a truly amazing city - - I had forgotten how wonderful it felt to be shadowed by sky-scrapers, surrounded by traffic, people, fabulous food, wonderful stores, etc.. Although I love where I live, there is something about city life that is just so exciting. I feel very blessed to have had this opportunity to take this little get-away.

We visited the Oprah Store this morning and shopped our brains out. Then, we had some Chicago deep-dish pizza, did lots of walking (eventually ending up at a beach), and then headed to the Signature Lounge at Hancock Tower for a martini. At one point while wandering the city, we ran into Maksim Chmerkovskiy from "Dancing With The Stars". Let me tell you, he is even more beautiful in person, if that is even possible. We are guessing he is in town because his new dance partner, Misty May-Treanor, is in Chicago today, filming the season premier of Oprah. Now we'll be getting ready for a very early departure for Harpo Studios in the morning. I have lots of pictures to share, so stay tuned for that, as well as a give-away!

***Edited to add photo of Maks, photo courtesy of my mom...he was walking pretty fast, people, so all you get is a photo of his bum...which isn't really a bad thing.***
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