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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

on snow flurries, pajama pants, and kids with the grumpies

crappy picture, nice moment.
This is the kind of morning where I feel lucky to be a stay at home mommy. The snow is coming down in gentle swirls but with an extra special fun layer of ice underneath. And I sit in my fleece pants and hoodie, coffee at the ready, typing on my new laptop, I can’t help but feel slightly smug as the snowplows and salt trucks roar by.

Let’s face it, we stay at home moms need to embrace these moments of feeling superior when we can… and we need to remember them the next time someone asks us “Soooo, what do you do again?”

So far it’s been the best kind of stay at home mommy day (granted it is only 10:30am as I type. HA.)

The children woke up early but went and played in their room.

And I stayed in bed for an extra 20 minutes.

Oh yes I did.

Listening to them greet each other in the morning is honestly one of the best and sweetest part of my days. Baby girl wakes up and asks for brother, “Jackson? Where is Jackson?” is usually the first words out of her mouth. “In his room baby.” “Oh. I go hug Jackson.” So she waddles down the hall and I hear, “well, hello missy Ayla!” “Jackson! Morning Jack!” “Good morning my baby sweetie ugga mugga girl.” (he makes up the funniest nonsense sugar names for her lately!) “Wanna go play in my room?” “ohtay Jack!”

And off they go.


Then later (after willing myself out of bed) I sipped coffee and they spent a good hour playing trains and cars. Little man is now resting on the couch reading books with the heating pad on his neck where he received a very grievous injury as a knight defending a train. (NO idea what actually happened but his “neck hurts” I ask how it hurts, because I don’t see a red spot, he says “I don’t know I can’t look inside of my body to see but the red spot is inside by my bones” hmmm, pulled neck muscle?)

In any case. He is reading books and little missy is roaming around bringing him new books to look at, or listening to him “read” to her.


And yes, I am TOTALLY ignoring the sink full of dirty dishes and the laundry that needs done and the Christmas decoration boxes that need put away. These moments of peace are so precious I need to sit and soak them in, all that other stuff can wait. Right?

(Speaking of dishes I made the BEST soup yesterday. Will write it up shortly.)

Yesterday was the opposite kind of day. We were a tired and grumpy crew.

(Oh, to interrupt myself again, she is turning around in circles eating ginger snaps and humming and just went over to him and kissed him on the hand, and then kept spinning. SO CUTE. Oh, and I just got a kiss too. Why thank you little miss.)

Where was I?

Oh yes, grumpy day yesterday. So you understand my need to embrace and share this moment. Document it, as it were. So I can look back and remember when we have another day of epic arguments over the TV or picking up toys or, as the case was yesterday, knocking baby sister down off the ottoman (on purpose!) with a gleam in his eye whilst looking right at me. (My response? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? And I may or may not have sworn in front of him, claiming the 5th on that one.)

My friend and I were just emailing about this, she calls it detoxing – from Thanksgiving and tree decorating and excitement etc. You know, those days when kids get the grumpies and don’t sleep well and you feel like tearing out your hair by 2pm? Detox. Our job is to be the calm instiller of rhythm and peace back into their lives.

I am reading this great book right now called “Simplicity Parenting” he talks about soul fevers. When your child is overwhelmed or stressed or going through something new. Just as you would treat a child with a fever – a blanket and book on the couch, a cozy cuddle watching Planet Earth – so you should treat a child with “soul fever”.

The other great thing about this concept, just as with a physical fever is not your “fault” and can’t be “fixed” so it goes with a soul fever. You have to give them warmth and support and love them through it but you just have to let it run its course.

Wow huh?

Seriously it was so freeing to read that. Like, oh. Right. Well, that I can do.

This whole feeling that “my child shouldn’t be acting this way, I should be more disciplined, etc.” Well, some things yes, we can intervene and provide good instruction but with this sort of situation, this overload from a busy weekend resulting in bad sleep and crabby days, or an angstful teenager upset about friends at school, or a stressed out child starting kindergarten for the first time, etc. these kinds of things we can just love them through. SO great to hear. Right? And he also points out that it is good to let them figure out their feelings on their own, good to let them work through it. Not that we can’t help and support and talk about it but letting them work through these things is healthy and necessary.

And now. We seemed to have reclaimed peace. Two days at home in pajama pants was all it took. HA.

So, snow, go ahead and swirl. I am oblivious to you in my little world of train tracks and lukewarm coffee and heating pads and kisses on knees.

Is it okay if I totally love my little world? Because I do, especially in this moment, I do.

christmas is coming...

little miss, confused. tree? huh? what?

little man expressing his age to the tree farmer

i look so grungy here. totally in yoga pants and big comfy sweater
while the kids are still in church finery. HA.

no no THIS is how you do it!
funny story, his job is watering the tree.
she wanted to help this morning so i put a little
water in her cup and told her to give it to the tree.
she promptly walked over and THREW it at the tree.

notice the hand on the neck.

Monday, November 29, 2010


June is back in action. Typing on my brand new laptop. YAY DADA!

So. How was your Thanksgiving?

We were on the farm for several days, hanging out with cousins and grandparents and aunties and uncles galore. We love it there. I didn’t make my brown sugar pie but the pumpkin cheesecake was quite the success. The only bummer about eating Thanksgiving dinner at the farm? NO LEFTOVERS. I am gonna have to roast a turkey soon.

We came home and put up a Christmas tree. So fun to see missy girl get into it for the first time and little man was very excited… after he screamed for an hour about how we had to rearrange the living room in order to fit in the tree. He is not into change and we had to take out the chair that he hides behind and calls his “mousy hole.” Definitely need to find him an alternative today.

I really have nothing inspiring nor interesting to say.

The children slept terribly last night. My brain is in a fog. An ice storm is on its way so we are holed up inside.

Just wanted to say hi.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

on thankfulness...

Sitting in the sunlight
On the lawn
Smells of grass and
Wisps of a breeze and
Sounds of the city
Leaves dangle on the trees
Gems on an elegant woman
Long neck curved to the sky
Grey fingers beckoning me
This sun
This breeze
This caressing of my soul
And sounds of little voices
Mingle in it all
The sounds of life and
Happiness and
Love and

I am content

And a jolt
That I found it here
On the lawn
Elusive giver
Past not withstanding
Future to behold

Prowling around my heart
Pouncing where unexpected

And I am here
So very here

The blue and
The green and
The golden of this day
This moment
Imprinted on my heart
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Anti-recipe #23 brown sugar pie

My new computer is sitting next to me as I type on this blasted (life-saving) blackberry. Mocking my cramped fingers. Dada has scared the bejeesus about of me with all the starting up instructions and as I am the one who fried the last one downloading something my computer said was an update, (I SWEAR it said it was an update!) well, I'm not touching the thing till I get a green light. Oh to be a techinally savy person!

But I do want to share this pie recipe as it is particularly yummy and special to me. So. Peck away I will.

In any case.

I have been the (self-appointed I suppose) pie maker of the family since I was 15. Every year I make this pie, along with the obligatory pumpkin pie which has evolved from plain pumpkin (boring!) to pumpkin with a praline layer (tasty) to pumpkin cheesecake (now cooling on the rack. YUM! I use this recipe, if you are interested, with a sour cream topping baked on. So dang good, yes, probably better than the brown sugar pie, but I really do follow the recipe because I don't want to screw it up too bad so I can't call this one mine by any stretch, although this year I, in typical Sara fashion, didn't bother to check ingredients before shopping and the children were wild hoodlums at the store and I couldn't think straight and then I came home to find we had half the frozen pumpkin I thought we had, no corn starch, and hardly any brown sugar. Bla! So I added an extra egg and a dash of cream of tartar (?? Totally winging it on that one) and am hoping for the best. It looks SO good though. Also I added ginger, which the recipe doesn't call for? Weird. Pumpkin without ginger?? In any case. Am I still writing in brackets? Ok. Enough.)

Where was I?

Oh yes, brown sugar pie.

First. My pie crust.

Gluten free flour mix (or regular flour) 1 1/2 cups. Dash of sugar. All this straight in a pie plate. Whip veg oil and milk (equal parts) appx 1 cup total, fold into flour mixture with fork. Use fingers to form crust, pressing up to the side of the pie plate. Prick, bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes. Pull out, let cool.

Now for the filling. So easy! Dump in 1 1/3 cups brown sugar (or so). 3 tablespoons GF flour (or regular flour) Add one can of evaporated milk. Thrown in a handful of cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, and 2-3 tablespoons of butter dotting the mixture.
Bake at 350 for an hour. *** Important *** it WILL NOT firm up! Its a soupy goopy kind of pie. But really yummy.

Look, only a pie plate and a fork dirty! Don't you love recipes like that?

This is an old Amish dish I found nearly, er, TWENTY YEARS ago (good grief am I that old??) back when I made meat pies and strawberry pudding for dinner simply because I liked cooking (and probably also because one of my sisters was in charge of dishes! Ha!) Hmmm. Meat pie. Totally doing that soon. With steak. Hmmm. Such happy memories!

Anyway. Brown sugar pie. Enjoy!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Anti-recipe #22 the best banana bread ever

And I say its the best because its not my recipe HA. Well, its mine with some tweaks.

First off. You know that last banana that no one eats and gets too bruised and you toss it in the garbage? Just toss it in the freezer! Peel and all! When you have three of them take them out, let them thaw overnight and make this banana bread! Now, yes, they will be a disgusting black slimy glob when you squeeze the super nasty banana out of the peel (its really gross, I want to prepare you) but these kind of overripe bananas really make the best bread. So, its worth the momentary nasty. And I must say I was unable to eat bananas for years after overdosing on them while living in the Amazon (my past adventurous life, although raising a 4 year old who draws circles on his chest, feet, and hands with markers and solemnly says "I AM ironboy" is its own adventure right??) I was staying with some missionaries in a tribal village and rather than offer handouts of clothes donated we would trade a bunch of bananas or a bowl of papaya for a shirt, etc. We had so many bananas - and we couldn't just throw them out!! - we challenged each other to eat 5 a day. Umm, that is a lot of bananas. I would cringe at night passing the storage room, the smell of rotting bananas wafting through the house. Ugh. A sack of avacado or papaya was more welcome! Ok. In any case. All that to say, this is good banana bread. Insert smiley face guy.

Ok, directions.

The original recipe comes from my favorite cookbook ever "How to Cook Everything," by Mark Bittman. I substitute coconut for coconut oil, half the butter, half the sugar, omit nuts (allergies in our house) and now, use Pamela's Baking Mix instead of flour.

So. Squeeze out nasty gushy bananas into big bowl. Add in 1/4 cup coconut oil and half a stick of butter. Mix. Add two eggs and 1/2 cup of sugar, plus a little brown sugar (or maybe some honey) Add in a tsp vanilla and some salt. Cream all this well. Mix in two cups of the Pamela's baking mix. (Which I just discovered also makes a wonderful pie crust! Yippee!) This is the same mix I mention in the cookie recipe. For you flour-people use 1/2 cup wheat flour and 1 and a half cup regular flour (or half and half of each.) Plus 1 and a half tsps baking powder (Pamela's mix already has leavening agents in it)

Bake at 350 in a WELL greased 5x9 loaf pan (or 12 muffins or 2 smaller loaves-i usually do this then freeze one in an old bread bag for later.)

Bake for 45-60 minutes (until browned and a knife point comes out clean from center of loaf)

And of course as an anti-recipe lots of variations are possible and encouraged! Add chocolate chips. Use honey. Or forget the bananas, add applesauce and cinnamon, or pumpkin and ginger! Lots of possibilities!

My fav way to eat this is toasted the next morning with peanut butter. Y U M M Y.

Lots of baking madness planned for this week. Will post my pie recipes! Including my world famous brown sugar pie... well, my dad likes it anyway.

Ok. Hand cramping up. Blackberry blogging is getting old.
Sunday, November 21, 2010

an attitude of gratitude

So, I don't know if you have picked up on it at all but I have been enormously crabby this week, which is really wrong of me I know, especially headed into this week.

My excuses are thus: Baby girl is getting another set of teeth. Winter ice has set in. The sky is dull November grey. I have been miss crafty galore but my projects aren't turning out the way I like. (Don't you HATE that though? I tried on this felted sweater coat I am making for the boy this morning, so pleased with myself right? He shrugs it off and says "its itchy." Fine. Forget it)

To give you a sampling of my mood. Little mister misplaced his "flash" hat I made. For two days we thought it was lost. I actually cried. Such a loser admitting that but, it happened. I am tired to the point of tears. Its that "finals" feeling, remember from college, where you close your eyes for a brief moment and they just want to stay closed? Totally that. It must be some kind of hormonal crap I suppose (I mentioned this possibility to dada and his eyes lit up "dear God I hope so!" Poor man)

Yes. THAT kind of week.

So today we forgo church and Sunday errands. I force the kids to let me watch meet the press. You get cartoons all week. Its MY TURN.

Little miss follows me around begging for "milk-a-milk-SIDE" as she now calls it. So, I give in. We sit and cuddle on the couch. She falls asleep. Dada brings peppermint tea, a bowl of salt and vinegar chips and the Sunday paper and mercifully takes the boy downstairs to play a rousing game of chess (complete with his own set of rules, which basically involve him never losing, boy not dada).

And here I sit. Absorbing the white grey sky, the dark fingers of trees piercing the skyline, little girl curled up on my chest. Thankful.

Its so easy to lose the forest through the trees as a parent, especially in those tired frazzled moments (like when demands for milkamilkside wake you at 3am...and 4am...and 5am) And you snap. And you pick a fight with dada about whose turn it is to sleep in (we ALL have that fight, right?) And suddenly your house is a disaster. Your kids ruined for life. And that cubicle sounds downright attractive.

That downward spiral is so icky. Do you do this? My college friend and I called it deep darkness. All light disappears and you are momentarily blinded by negativity.

But (thankfully, or out of necessity really) as the years have gone by I have learned to recognize - and even overcome! - that descent. Its almost like you have to stop and pull your mind out of yourself for a moment, look down on yourself like a benevolent spirit. Look at that little blonde head laying on your chest Sara. That beautiful smart (too smart?) boy in the corner playing. Look at them. No. Really look at them. They are delicious amazingness! Strong little bodies. Perfect. Smart funny little minds absorbing the world you present them. And that dada! His warm face smiling as they play, eyes crinkled at the corners. Poking his head around the corner to ask if you need another cup of tea. This little cozy (crazy) house full of love and laughter. Dear friends and family a phone call (or text/facebook message) away. You are loved! You are blessed from above!

And the ickies melt away (or lift significantly anyway, ha!) And that mantle of crabby foreboding, it cracks. This little blonde head of curls won't be napping on your chest for much longer. Drink it in! Her little sighs. That hand wrapped around a lock of hair. Secure and safe in her mama's arms.

And yes. I am thankful. Teary, (and still tired) yet thankful.
Saturday, November 20, 2010

Anti-recipe #21 gluten free chocolate chip cookies

Seriously amazing gluten free chocolate chip cookies are as easy as...well, as easy as buying a baking mix. Its by Pamela's, a gluten free baking company, their pancake and baking mix product.

Its basically bisquick with baking soda and powder in the mix. As opposed to the flour only combo I used last time. These cookies are seriously amazing. I followed the recipe on the bag.

Cheater, I know.

It was this:
1 stick butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar (I used less)
Add 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla.
Add in 1 1/2 cups flour mix.
I found the mix too dry and added a splash of milk.
Add chocolate chips.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

The batter really spreads so, caution.

To make a more adult gourmet version I added peanuts and a sprinkle of sea salt to one batch.

Seriously, so good.
Unlike the other flour this mix has almond meal which means well, dada can't eat it (allergies) but it hold together better. The meal gives the mix needed texture.


Soooo yum.

I need to try making muffins oooo banana bread! That is next. Then I need to do a crust for thanksgiving pies!

Going to get another cookie.

a simple holiday season

Don't you hate it when Saturday morning sneaks up on you and suddenly you are sitting in your bathrobe, sipping coffee and monitoring cartoon intake. What a minute. Where did the week go again? Did I get anything done?? I like to clean Friday afternoons so my house is sparkly clean for the weekend. I didn't yesterday. Yesterday I started the Minnesota tradition, reluctantly, of taking the kids for a walk in the Mall of America. My clever mommy walking partner found a secret abandoned hallway and we let the kiddies run wild. Fun, yet still I think it made me grumpy and lethargic. No more walks to the park?? Already?? Much weeping and gnashing of teeth going on inside of me. I know of course that the sidewalks are clear enough to bundle of the kids and walk outside anyway. Except for that its cold.


I totally need to go clean the house. That will make me feel better.

Or go shopping. Minneapolis is opening a new combined artisan store. Lots of local crafter artists selling their wares...and it opens today...and I am contemplating dragging dada and the kiddies out to check it out. Or go by myself.

Yesterday I found myself daydreaming about tropical beaches. Some twit on house hunters was buying a vacation home. In Belize. For 3 times as much as what I can hope to spend on a house anytime soon. That shit makes me crabby. And yet I watch. As she complains about the quality of granite. And how she doesn't like the locally made bamboo furniture. And the giant walk in closet just *might* hold all her shoes. You know what I mean. You watch out of pure escapism (quite a theme for me apparently) and yet it makes you kind of sick.

And so I clean my abode, a hovel in comparison, and try to appreciate the grey white sky instead of carribean blue...and where is this post going? I have no idea really. (You know what is going on here? Blogging on the blackberry. It makes my thoughts limited to the size of this tiny screen...)

Except simplicity is important to me. It really is. It is a family choice we have made. Stable government lawyering job with amazing benefits and hours over crazy firm hours and stress. Reducing the number of toys and activities for my kids rather than buying them all the latest things they think they want.

Side note: I was amazed when the toys r us catalogue found its way to our house last week and little man never asked for a single toy from it. Instead he took out his trusty duplos and built the toys he coveted! For days! Look mom its the transformers on this page! And here is the hogworts castle and the train!

Anyway. I am rambling. I am tired.

Simplicity yes. And I am trying to keep this in mind as shopping season begins. TRYING.

So we are thinking one large gift per child and then stocking stuffers. A wooden castle for him and a wooden dollhouse for her. Not the pretty delicate kind, the kind with chunky wood furniture that little hands can set up and play with. (The house is by ryan's room toys I think. The castle is at this great independent toy store in town. I also want to try and buy local or handmade this season to support local crafters and work from home moms like me.) I am so psyched for these purchases. I was a HUGE into dollhouses as a child. Even into my early teens. I still have a box of teeny tiny forks and quilts and toys and furniture. I love it. And yes I am pulling some of that shit out. Oh yes.

But no, back to point. One gift. A gift that will facilitate imaginative play. That is my rule for toys as the kids get older. If it can't lend to imaginative play-allowing little man to go from knight to super hero to train engineer- then I don't want it cluttering up my house. Too many toys today dictate how a child plays with it. Kids have no room to imagine and create. (As my kid watches Saturday morning cartoons and begs with every commercial "mom can I have that pleeeeeese?" Ha.) A wooden house can be a super hero hideout or a fire house or a tree fort. You see what I am getting at.

I am also going to make fuzzy fleece blankets for them. And then some stocking stuffers.

And then they have generous aunties and uncles and grandparents and such who are so sweet to bless our kids with gifts. They will have plenty.

But I want Christmas to be simple in more ways than just the kind of presents we buy. I want to create magical memories of candles and wreaths and family and friends. I have such sweet memories of the magic of the season. Pulling out boxes of decorations. The copper candle set that twirls when the candles are lit. The advent wreath and little song we sang. My kids are still young but old enough to participate in things like this now. I am Swedish and dada is German so I was thinking of incorporating some of our heritage into the annual celebration of the month. St. Niklaus day (?) and Santa Lucia day (?). And I want to have giving a part of our tradition, above and beyond our normal. Maybe saving up for the month and then picking a charity? (I read something about this in family fun magazine. Don't you love that magazine?)

Anyway. Those are some of my thoughts lately as we move into holiday season.

What are some of your family traditions with young ones? Ohmygosh don't you love it?

Next up: I need to experiment with gluten free pie crusts. I am the pie woman of thanksgiving. But I will post my non gluten free pie specialty. It is delish.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

easy winter hat out of old sweaters!

November is a crafty month. It is grey and cold. Chex mix wafts through the air. Tea in a mug next to me. Out come the hats and scarves. So perfect.

I am a crafty goddess this week. Like crazy crafty mama.

Here is one thought I came up with looking (in vain) for a hat for little man that I liked and didnt cost $25. (Seriously who pays $20 for a kids winter hat that will inevitably get left at church/playgroup/outside under a pile of snow. I am still irritated at myself for paying full price for a puffer vest for him at the beginning of October, only to have it left somewhere - and still lost - by the middle of the month. ACK)

So, I come home and look at piles of sweater pieces left over from my woolie making days. Hmmm. That sweater piece is stripey grey and black just like that hat I liked at baby Gap. hmmm. Maybe if I cut it here. Another snip here. Sew it up. Fleece lining. Replicate the cute red lightning strike. VOILA. Hat.

Okay. Not that simple. It took a few hours. I am handstitching though because my sewing machine is dead. With a machine it would be really quick!

So, here are some photos and a how to. I have already made one for me, sister, and even dada (who for some odd reason wants an elephant on the side of his. Umm. NO.)

 Cut out hat shape (two pieces), I used another hat that fits little man as a pattern, leaving 1/4 inch on each side for seams. Cut a V in the top to create a more rounded shape. Sew V together. Sew hat sides together (right sides facing of course)

Cut out fleece (if you want to do lining) Cut in a V to each piece at the top. Sew in exact way as other hat described above. Dont hem either hat. Sew on any sort of design onto the outside piece. We chose a lightening bolt in striking red (which coincidentally matches his new red and grey winter coat!!)

Even if you are using a machine I would hand stitch this part. Fit fleece layer into outside layer, seams facing in (so turn the fleece hat inside out and snug it right into the other hat. Does that make sense??) Flip the unfinished edges in toward each other, as shown above, and hand sew with a hidden whip stitch.

Finished! He was so pleased with his "FLASH!" hat that he wore it all day! (Also, notice how I literally had to hold him to get him to hold still!! And still the picture is fuzzy...)

SO. There you have it. So darn easy. I want to do one for little miss with a flower on it (cut out from old sweaters of course.) HAVE FUN CRAFTY MAMAS!

Anti-recipe #20 friendship tea and chex mix

I have a long sordid history with chex mix. To me, and my sisters and brother, it is the key smell of the holidays, ushering in a season of dark afternoons, family gatherings, Harry Potter movies, holiday music, and overeating.

I make huge gigantic batches.

I eat it by the bowlful.

It is bad.


A few years ago I came up with a rule. No chex mix before November, preferably not until mid-November. And no chex mix after January. Last year I caved and made it in mid-October. This year I held out. I am so proud. HA.

And of course, Friendship Tea, that sugary mixture of spicy goodness, is the perfect companion to chex mix.

So, without further ado. Chex mix and friendship tea, AKA Christmas in a bowl/mug.

Chex Mix:

Well, first a note about doing this gluten free. TOTALLY POSSIBLE. First off, rice and corn chex are gluten free. YAY. Then the cheerios. I made my first batch this season with regular cheerios. After all oats are lower gluten than wheat. Right? But, then my dear boy found a great gluten free alternative - Whole O's by Nature's Path - that are made with rice and corn. YIPEE. Then he found some rice/potato flour pretzels by Ener-G, which are super yummy on their on. I am not big on pretzels in chex mix. Something about them ruins the flow of the inhalation of the mixture. But, lots of people like this so. I added some in the batch in the oven right now.

Set your oven to 300. You will be stirring the mixture every ten minutes for more than an hour. You can speed it up and set it at 350 but you will need to stir more often.

Get a huge ass roasting pan. Drop in a stick of butter. Sure you can skimp and do half a stick. But to me that is like picking the chocolate chips out of the chocolate chip cookies. What is the point? Might as well just have a bowl of cereal and skip the making of the chex mix.

Melt the butter right in the pan as the oven preheats.

Add in roughly 3 tablespoons of Worstechire sauce.

Add in roughly 1 tsp garlic salt. 1 tsp onion powder. 1 tsp seasoned salt. I dont have the latter two ingredients so I added 1 tablespoon garlic salt. Also you can throw in some brown sugar.

Mix this all with butter right in the pan.

Combine a total of around 6 cups of rice chex, corn chex, wheat chex, cheerios/alternative O's, etc. You can play around with various cereals to use if you want. I am a purist though.

Add in some pretzels and peanuts. I go heavy on peanuts, light on pretzels.

This combination should about fill up your roasting pan.

Stir well. Put in oven, stirring every 10 minutes until crunchy and toasty.

Store in large ziplock bag. Totally best eaten warm out of the oven.

Friendship Tea:
(Also called Russian tea)

1 cup Tang
1 cup instant iced tea
Some people add instant lemonade too.
1 tbs (or more?) cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg or cloves or both

These are loose measurements. Mess with that ratios until you get it to the right sweetness/tang-y-ness, etc.

Mix a few tablespoons of the mixture with hot water in a large mug. YUM.

Ah. So there you have it. Christmas on the farm. Can't WAIT.

(posted on my sister's laptop. YAY. thanks auntie!)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

in the snow.

So I am standing outside under the grey snowy sky watching the children play. With fingerless gloves on. And a ball of yarn and knitting needles tucked in my pocket. Oh yes. Knitting out in the snow. And now blogging from my crackberry.

Hard core Minnesotan here.

Monitoring your young children as they play outside in the snow has got to be one of the WORST pasttimes of parenthood. Seriously torture.

First let's talk about getting ready. The layers. The battle over yes you have to wear mittens. Then you get outside and yes someone has to pee.

Then you get outside and its cold and wet and boring (for you anyway) and being that its the first snow there is mud in patches all over the yard and no matter how many times you say no the 4 year old WILL throw snowballs at you and baby sister. And she will cry. And she will fall in the snow. And she will ask you to whip out "milk-a-milk" right then and there. "Peeeeese mama!"

And did I mention the boredom??

Hence the knitting.

And your feet get cold. And fingerless gloves aren't really cutting it.

Seriously. My fingertips are numb. Time to say goodbye.

I am afraid its going to be a LONG winter.

And I would post an adorable picture of them in the snow but posting from crackberry doesn't allow it. Little miss has on the leggings I made in the woolie post. SO DAMN CUTE. And too big gloves and brothers old boots and a Hanna Andersson coat I found at a thrift store that I swore would fit but is MUCH too big. And brother is outfitted in his new gear all puffy and warm. And she is following him around eating chunks of ice (do they not FEEL THE COLD??!!) And now they are throwing chunks of ice through the chain link fence. Really? That is amusing? I am shivering my ass off for that???

Did I mention the boredom?

Ok. I seriously can't feel my fingers, making typing rather excruciating.

Time to use the old "let's have hot cocoa!" trick and get these hooligans inside.

(New laptop arriving next week. Yay!!!)
Sunday, November 14, 2010

my computer is dead

It sucks. I mean I know we can take it in and retrieve digital pics (all my photos for the past 6 years!) and documents and such. And in fact I kinda strongly dislike our laptop. Its old and slow and tempermental and crabby (not unlike its owner this morning, most mornings HA) so, I will be happy to get a new long as that can occur within a two day-ish time frame.

I am pecking away on my Blackberry right now. Fun times.

I have been computer-less for three days now and I am losing my mind. Plus I have honest to God work to do! Imagine that!

I was amazed to realize yesterday, as I updated my facebook for the fourth time in one morning (so embarassing when that happens) that blogging really has become such an important processing tool for me. Writing has always been important for my inner life but blogging has that added element of you-an audience (whether your interest in a particular topic is imagined or not) adding that in gives so much more dimension. Maybe someone else cares to read about my obsession with chex mix! Maybe you too will be interested in how I rearranged my living room! Etc.

Anyway. Thanks for listening.

Hopeful topics for the coming week (hopefully on a new laptop!) Include: me and chex mix, a love affair; knitting projects (I totally fouled up a hat for missy yesterday, still kinda pissed about it); big girl bed; a simply-minded christmas; quinoa; felting figures for little man; and no doubt ramblings about dreads and mommy-ness and etc.

Oh! We had our first snow! Such a lovely cozy Saturday yesterday...

So, until then...or until I break down to peck away again on my Blackberry.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Anti-recipe #19 - green smoothies

So my latest thing in the whole gluten free quest is to drink smoothies every day. Green smoothies. Perhaps I am late on the bandwagon. It seems people have been talking about these for years. And we have all had or seen the Naked Juice "Green Machine" smoothie. But as I was researching the gluten free thing I read that going gluten free can be almost a detox-like experience and drinking green smoothies can replace a lot of nutrients and enzymes in the body that are leeched out in the process.
Look at all that good stuff!

Something like that.

Of course taking in a bunch of fresh nutrients is great for anyone, especially from leafy greens which are rich in anti-oxidants, calcium, folic acid and lots of vitamins and minerals essential for women in their child-bearing years. Plus, unlike strained juice, all the fiber is still present. That is always good.

Read this woman’s website for more info.

Or here.


So what is it? Spinach in a smoothie? Really?


Here is what I did.

Take out your blender.

Throw in two huge handfuls of leafy greens. I use spinach. I will try kale later today. (Ok, I just tried the kale. Definitely need to remove the meaty stem part of the leaf. Ew. Way too chunky for me.) You can add salad greens (you know the stuff wilting in your crisper drawer? Icky huh? Just blend it up!) or a cucumber!


Look at all that good green stuff!

Throw in a banana. Some orange juice. Some coconut oil. Maybe some aloe vera.

Be creative. Lots of things work well. Frozen blueberries. Yogurt. Kefir. Any kind of juice. Strawberries. I have read adding ginger and cilantro. Mango. Lots of ways you can go.

Ok, you get the idea.

Then think supplementing. A few drops of Echinacea during cold season. Maybe some protein powder. Spirulina powder (a kind of blue algae, I have seen it but totally had to google it too, apparently it is FULL of protein and other good stuff ) bee pollen powder (again with the google, apparently rich in digestive enzymes). And etc. etc. etc.

Sweeten with a spoonful of honey or some stevia if you like.

Now, whir it all up in your blender. Pour into large glass. Drink.

Tasty, no? Can you believe you just drank a HUGE serving of greens? That would be a lot of chewing. Plus you are avoiding the inevitable dosing of salad dressing.

I love it.

Plus, put in a sippy cup (so your kid can’t see the funky color) and THEY WILL DRINK IT! I swear.

So, happy blending!
Monday, November 8, 2010

today's zen parenting moment

I am about up to here (motioning to top of head) with sick children crabby-ness.

We are on the mend. Well, they are. Remains to be seen if mommy and dada are getting it. No fevers since Saturday. No idea what THAT was about. Back to back colds for three weeks? What the heck? Feeling like a bad mommy for that one ...
Anyway. We got out in the sunshine today. And the zen moment? No runny noses! (Although they are congested still so it only kinda counts.)

his recently perfected "hilarious" face.

a little forest elf?

escapism literature

Mommies need to read books. And I am not talking about parenting books. Totally doesn’t count.

I am talking fiction.

Good stories that make you daydream. Or think. Or just take you somewhere else. Someplace where there are no Cheerios on the floor or kids squabbling over who gets the green Matchbox car. (I swear my children, we HAVE TWO GREEN CARS. Good GRIEF!)


I think I have read more fiction literature since becoming a mother than I did in all my college/graduate school years. Well, with all the academic reading during that phase of life reading for fun loses its appeal I guess.

But, I will contend that reading is significant as a mother for two reasons.

1) There is something about being able to curl up with a nursing/sleeping baby and a good book.
2) Escapism, pure and simple.

This last point has made me, over the years, come to think of a new genre of literature, pertaining to mommies.

Escapism literature.

Books qualify in the following way:

-Most importantly, there can’t be any relation to my real life AT ALL. That is, no children, no babies, no home-life scenarios (like where girl marries the billionaire husband and goes on to hire a nanny and housekeeper, etc.) Also, I don’t really like romance in these books. Why? Too easy for comparison. Not that my romantic life is lacking per se but, well, children do sap it out of you… ‘Nuf said.

-The story needs to be fast paced. I am impatient. Get to the point already people.

-It needs to make me think a little. I do have a brain. I miss using it.

-It can’t be too politically charged. Too reality based. I don’t want to read about how f-d up our society is. It’s depressing. And that is not the point of escapism literature. I want to ESCAPE somewhere pleasant, or interesting, or compelling. Not somewhere depressing.

Here is the way I often choose books:

Go to the library. Pick out 3-6 children’s titles, some educational, some of their choosing. Go to adult fiction aisles. Plop children in chair with books. “DON’T MOVE.” Browse book aisles until children start running away and I get mean looks from other library-goers. “Can't you control your wild children lady?" "No, no I CANNOT.” Pick book out based on above criteria in addition to the prettiness/appealing-ness of the book cover (I am not kidding, I totally choose books based on the cover. I also used to do this with wine before being schooled a bit on wine by Mr. Fancypants Dada. Ooo. That bottle has pretty vines and birds. Let’s get that! This is how I do it with books too. Ooo. I like that font. And a pretty sunset on the cover too. Looks like a historical novel about Cuba. SOLD. Let’s get that book!)

So what are some prime escapism books? Well, you can go a lot of ways. Perhaps there are sub-categories.

Escapism Lit/Young Adult Fantasy literature

Although I would contend that books in this “junior” category are some of the best fiction books to come around in years, nevertheless, this is where a bookstore might put them.
The prime example here is the Harry Potter series of course. Here are some others:
Harry Potter
The Hunger Games trilogy
Inkspell trilogy
Twilight (although the romance part is quite, er, heavy in this series the witty banter and smart writing makes up for it)

Escapism Lit/The Classics: Adventure

Then you have the classic adventure stories from over the years.
Lord of the Rings
And I suppose you could add Narnia books, Swiss Family Robinson, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Etc. (Although those books really don’t do it for me lately. I mean, I love them and cant WAIT to read them to my kids but, more nostalgia for reading them at 10.)

Escapism Lit/Classics

In this category I would add some of my favorites
Midnights Children, by Rushdie
Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Rushdie
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy

Escapism Lit/Historical dramas

Thirteen Moons, by Charles Frazier (guy who wrote Cold Mountain)
Tender is the Night, by Fitzgerald (okay, this has kids and romance but it is in such an exotic locale and lifestyle that it is very escapism to me)
I have read more in this category lately but I cant remember the titles.

Escapism Lit/Science Fiction

Lear’s Daughters - I read this series when Ayla was a newborn. Cuddled up with tea and a brand new baby in the cold Midwestern March. It was kinda perfect.

That is all I can think of that I have read in this subcategory, although I just googled and found this list and I TOTALLY am gonna check some of these titles out.

Escapism Lit/Academic Adventure/Mystery/Detective

Da Vinci Code – of course the key book in this category
Anything else by Dan Brown
The Sign by Raymond Khoury
Anything else with historical conspiracy theories, particularly involving Knight Templar or Freemasonary or such. I love that shit.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy – this is what I am currently reading. It’s a little heavy. But I am loving the whole Swedish backdrop to the story. It makes me want to wear chunky wool sweaters and Doc Marten boots and go shop at Ikea (Hmmm. Meatballs. Must go eat meatballs.)

So, help a mama out. What are some of your favorite escapism books?
Sunday, November 7, 2010

ok. so. umm. yea.

Excuses as to why I have not written in the past several days contrary to recent personal resolutions (which also included running three times a week - HA - and writing a real book type thing)

- The kids are STILL SICK. For three days we battled fevers in little miss, despite having gone on to antibiotics for the first time in her life. She was finally fever-free this morning. Little man has been hacking and coughing and not sleeping well. He napped for two hours today. God help us at bedtime (no really God, please help us!)

- I threw out my back three days ago, in the midst of the fever/hacking thing. It was really fun. Like, lying on my back in the kitchen type fun. Also, it sucked because I couldn't stand up straight and walked around the house like the hunch back of Notre Dame which made me notice little things I normally wouldn't, being that I was looking down all day, like blocks scattered around the house and Cheerios that needed swept so of course, being me, I picked up and swept and cleaned all day...hunched over. It was ridiculous.

And here we are. Sunday. No fevers. No aching back. And now for a drink. OR TWO.

Will post more later.
Thursday, November 4, 2010

a dreaded solution (for a dreadful mess)

So, to be totally un-Midwestern/self-absorbed for a moment. (My apologies.)

Let's talk about my dreads, shall we?

I kinda have to admit that I have woken up on more than one morning and HATED my rat's nest hair, almost a panicky feeling, MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE TO MY HAIR?

Later in the day it resloves, I put it back in a bun or braid and forget about it. But that nagging feeling is there.

Lets face it, I have no patience. NONE. Any patience I do have is for my children, solely, they suck it out of me, like, like, the image that is coming to mind is a vampire... I have very little left over for poor dada and absolutely none leftover for things like the Comcast tech support guy ... or my hair.

Someone asked me the other day when I was lamenting this situation. So, if its not for the low maintenance thing then, what, you like the hairstyle? Ummm. Maybe? Sure yea, I guess.

I did have a dream the other day that I magically woke up with beautiful Rapunzel-like golden ropes hanging down my head, that image gave me hope.

I needed help though.

But, rather than fork over the cash to a salon (I still want those dang boots) I did the next best thing. Asked "auntie" to help, once again (really Cari, you could be charging out your services - not to me though. HA.) I got little tiny plastic hair ties and had her tie up the dreads that need help at the base, near the scalp and then a few further down to try and contain and tame the frizzy mess.

So far, I think it is helping.

And now we wait and see.

i like how it looks from this angle.
see the little ties?
omg i look so tired in this picture.
and the dreads look all funky.
eh. too tired to care.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

on coffee, spas, and nature baskets

It is one of those days again. It seems like I have a lot of those? Or maybe those are the ones where I really NEED to write, to purge myself so to speak?


In any case.

As I tend to do, I basked in the sunlight drinking my coffee this morning and found myself fantasizing about what many a tired mommy fantasizes over (no, NOT Mr. Jolie-Pitt).

A spa.

Hmmm. Mud masks. Massages. Maybe some nice relaxing yoga. Lunch of healthy soup and a crisp salad.
Followed by chocolate crème brulee. With a glass of wine. Then an afternoon of basking in the sunshine of a garden, drinking herbal tea, and reading (this damn book that I need to finish so I get more sleep and stop having weird dreams.)


Please God? Please?


And I wake up. And the kids are dumping toys all over the living room. And I sigh. And I pick it up. And sweep. And take a shower. And reheat the leftover coffee. And plug the kids into Blues Clues. And fire up the laptop.

Purge away, right?

Lucky you. (Insert winky face guy)

So, I figured, to be nice and inspiring, I would share this idea I have read elsewhere (Beyond the Rainbow Bridge) which is a cozy, educational, homey thing to write about and therefore gets me to stop whining about spas and the like.

Nature collection baskets.

miss snot-nose sorts acorns, rocks, and pinecones. ok, fine mostly
she is dumping them on the ground and picking them up again.
but still. fun. nice. pretty.
And really, it is the perfect time of year to start this up.

I found some baskets (obtained in Brazil in a prior life, was used to organize my work space but, let’s face it, I really don’t need a basket for the years worth of business cards I have, once essential, now irrelevant.) So I dump the contents out all over my dust-covered desk and repurpose them for the children. Kind scary how much of this has been going on lately. HA.

We started in September with a collection of acorns. We added some polished rounds of wood. Some pretty smooth rocks. Recently some pinecones. Then a blue jay feather.

You get the idea.

brother gets in on the action
I love to watch how the kids interact with nature. And with this they start looking for the little treasures (no, we can’t add the wooly caterpillar.) And as you walk or play in the yard you start to notice pretty rocks and interesting pieces of wood.

Plus, it’s pretty to have this collection lying around, as opposed to your son’s collection of Happy Meal Super Hero toys. (Brings such a lovely aesthetic to a room, no?)

Little miss LOVES to carry the baskets to the middle of the room, dump them out, throw it on the floor, pick it up again, sort acorns from the rocks in different baskets, and occasionally pop acorns into her mouth and tell me she is a “ ‘quirrel. ” (“You are not a squirrel missy. Give it to mama. Spit it out.” I say this at least 10 times a day.)

So. A nice idea, right?

Happy November!
Monday, November 1, 2010


So, I have my political leanings, of course, but I don't feel this is the place for that...I want anyone who visits my blog to feel comfortable and able to chat and feel at home, so to speak, so I choose to talk about mommy-commonality, and avoid political nastiness/diviseness/etc/

(I also confess to hating confrontation. So there is that.)

BUT. Voting is important. And there are things that all mommies should think about and vote about - education, health care, jobs, economic goals, etc.

SO. Regardless of where you stand on the issues.



We have an amazing opportunity to do so, unlike so many mothers around the world. MAKE YOUR VOICE COUNT.

Here is where you can find your polling station, if you are in MN.

...and here is a nifty google tool to help you find your polling place, nationally.
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