Archives for July 2010

Weekly Winners, Week Ending 7.31.10

So, the puppy’s leg is fractured, there was a birthday in the house, and… uh… what else? I’m sorry, summer is just a big giant blur and each day blends into the day before it. It’s probably no surprise, after listening to me gripe about winter and now gripe about summer that I am not a fan of weather extremes — spring and fall? I love ’em though.

"I bet this is how your kids, and grand kids, are going to remember you. They aren't even going to remember you had eyes."

Sugar dusted chocolate chips.

Isn't this the saddest thing you ever saw? Now that he's on the mend, he's got a tremendous amount of energy though. It's kind of translating into aggression. CANNOT WAIT til the splint comes OFF.

I love how my dirty mirror almost looks like fancy bokeh. It's not bokeh! It's toothpaste splatter. Awesome.

Yes, it's probably one of the saddest things I've ever seen.

My kid brought this bear into my office - one more thing on my desk. I suppose if I cleaned it, I could actually use it. The rubik's cubes are for a photo project I haven't done yet.

Check out more weekly winners via LOTUS

Thursday Ten: I’ve Missed Tim Gunn So Much Edition

1. Whew. Project Runway season eight begins tonight. Yeah, I never got into the show “Lost”. Or “24”. Or “Mad Men.” But Project Runway? I love. Tim Gunn? I love. Can’t wait.

2. For those of you in the midwest, you’ve no doubt heard that there was an oil spill in Michigan. In fact, ONE MILLION GALLONS OF OIL may have been spilled. Devastating. Right now, they are trying to keep the oil from working its way into Lake Michigan. News reports say that Enbridge, the company responsible for the pipeline that leaked, has been cited several times in recent years for violations in the Great Lakes region. Now, I’m not one to get all politicky (I’ll save that for others who are far better at it, and far more informed than I am) — but seems like we heard similar things about BP. The way these companies are monitored seems wholly inadequate, and it’s our natural resources and our wild life that pay such a huge toll for irresponsible business practices.

3. On a lighter note, Pumpkin had a fantastic birthday on Tuesday and has been playing with all her new birthday loot and wearing new birthday clothes daily. Admittedly, that’s one of the best parts of getting clothes for one’s birthday: getting to wear all fresh new gear for awhile.

4. If you follow me on Twitter, than you probably already know that on Sunday before Pumpkin’s birthday party she was playing with the puppy, lost her balance and landed on his leg. He has a green stick fracture in his right hind leg and he’s bandaged up pretty good. He seems to be recovering well – but it makes me nervous – he bounds around like all of his bones are perfectly fine. Yes, that’s probably an okay thing – but remember, this is a puppy in a big puppy cast-like wrap. It just looks… sad.

5. Still plugging away at the 200 Situps and 100 Pushups program. Are you doing these too? If so, let me know how you’re progressing. Admittedly the situps are way easier. In five sets of situps today, I managed 171 situps. The pushups, however, I am procrastinating and will do later. Much, much later. And the app is functioning perfectly now – so it must have just been a glitch.

6. In the Nook/Kindle battle, I had just about decided to purchase a Nook – and then… Today Kindle announces a new version of Kindle* which looks… much Nookier. Still think I’m leaning towards a Nook though.

7. Alot of people are gearing up right now to venture off to NYC for BlogHer ’10. I’m not going – but I hope y’all have fun. I really fell in love with parts of NYC (yeah… parts) while I was there this spring – and would love to see it again… but, it’d be hard to justify a second trip so soon.

8. I have had “one of those weeks” where I’m just an irrational grump. Ice cream hasn’t helped. Workouts haven’t helped (though, go Jillian Michaels’ Shred – my quads have been on fire for two days). I hate those times when I’m moody. It’s no more fun for me than it is for the people around me.

9. Swim classes are OVER! Pumpkin did alright – she’ll need to remain in that level for another round (for some reason, she didn’t want to put down that pool noodle and try to swim without it). That’s alright. I don’t need or want her to be an Olympic swimmer. If we can just keep building her basic swimming skills so she’s comfortable in and near the water, I’ll be happy.

10. Tonight is book club – we didn’t end up meeting in June and so now, we’re discussing two, two, two books in one (night). The Nicholas Sparks book is on my shelf – I bought it and never read it. The book for July, well, I’m half way through rereading it. I’d read it before, but… honestly, I’m going to be a horrible contributer to tonight’s gathering. Oh well. Maybe there’ll be french fries.

*Affiliate link.

The Music In My Ear

Typically, I list all the new music I’m listening to in my Thursday Ten lists each week, but I’ve got some awesome tunes in my ear this week and I thought I would share the songs that are currently occupying my “Recently Added” iTunes playlist.

1. NEW MORNING – Alpha Rev

The press release mentioned that Alpha Rev was being referred to as somewhat “Coldplay-esque” in the press (that’s my word, not theirs. Coldplayesque isn’t a word. Yet. It should be. I was wary when I read that because – don’t hate, y’all – I really don’t like Coldplay. I know, I know. It’s unheard of. But, truly… I don’t dig Coldplay. So I wasn’t sure what I would think of the single “New Morning” – but I really like it. I received a copy of the album download for review* and I’m still listening to that a few more times (I’ll keep you posted of course), but my initial reaction is that I like it. I find the melodies radio friendly, and there are several tunes that are staying with me.

Here’s their first cut, “New Morning”. And, uh, the lead singer is not so bad to look at either.

2. EVENING KITCHEN – Band of Horses

In response to a plea for music recommendations, one of my awesome friends told me to check out this song by BoH. I am drawn to its simplicity – the harmonizing and the lyrics. And it gets bonus points for being acoustic because it’s my list and I can give bonus points for that kind of thing if I want to. I’m not a diehard Band of Horses fan – but this is the second song of theirs that I have fallen in love with.

3. I WANT YOUR SEX – Chris Mann

Sure, I mentioned this last week, but I thought I would drop in the vid this week. The video incorporates elements from the original version by George Michael – but still stands on its own. I give Chris points for rocking that magenta suit jacket and for having better hair than Georgie Boy.  By the way, George Michael’s version was released in 1987. I still remember this video. I still know all the lyrics to the song… and uh, I was ELEVEN when this came out. These are the things I remind myself when Miley Cyrus tries to shed her kid image. When I was young I was watching Madonna writhe on a stage in a wedding gown and George Michael being George.

What are you listening to this week? I love music recommendations always – so let me know what songs I can’t miss.

*I received Alpha Rev’s album to review, but as always – the opinions I express regarding the music featured on that album are my own.

The other songs mentioned were purchased on my own. Chris doesn’t send me free music, but it would be totally okay with me if he did.

Happy 5th Birthday, Pumpkin!

Dear Pumpkin,

On the day you were born, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning knowing that it would be your birthday. Three and a half hours later, you were in my arms. And like the day you were born, you are still an early riser – often up before the sun (much to our dismay!) and raring to go, ready to start your day as soon as your feet hit the floor.

Today, you are five years old and I cannot believe it’s been five years since I first saw your face. You were born with a head full of dark hair – it was wild and sprouty. It has since lightened to a blondish-brown, almost a strawberry blond at times – funny how far from your brunette beginnings you went.

You are passionate about animals. You love all animals and you like to learn about them. Often, when we go to the library, you head right to the non-fiction books. You want books about pets. You recently checked out books about dogs, particularly labradoodles. You even picked up a book about lhasa apso dogs even though no one we know has one. You know quite a lot about dinosaurs, also. You know the difference between a T Rex and an Allosaurus (one has two fingers, one has three) and you can tell the difference between plant eaters and meat eaters. I think it’s pretty awesome the way you decide you like something and then you want to learn all sorts of things about it.

You are a very affectionate kid. You like to cuddle up with me. It’s not uncommon for you to come up to me, move things out of my lap and nestle in with me and say, “I want to sit with you.” If I’m sad or hurt, you’re quick to wrap your arms around my neck in a hug and kiss my face.

One of my most played tracks in my iTunes library is a 15 second clip of your laugh. I love your laugh – if I could bottle it up and sell it for other people to listen to all the time, there would be more happy people. When you are happy, your joy is apparent. You wear it on your face like sunshine. You’re easy to read, for sure. There are moments when you are so consumed with happiness – your smile spreads across your face and your eyes shine.

You idolize your big sister – you want to do everything she does, go where she goes, play with her friends when they come over. When the big girls let you play with them, you are so happy. I love the look on your face when you feel like you’re part of the “big girls” group. When they close the door and tell you you can’t play, you get your feelings hurt. Often, it makes you throw a tantrum. This isn’t fun. I know it makes you feel left out, but sometimes we have to let your big sister do her own thing with her own friends. Soon, you’ll start having friends over on your own.

You’ll be starting kindergarten soon and I’m so excited for you. This is a time of new beginnings for you. Like your big sister, you’ll be getting on that school bus in the morning and heading off to school where you will make new friends, learn so many new things, and have stories to tell me when you arrive back home each day of your adventures while you were at school. I’m excited for you – I’m excited to hear your stories.

You have changed so much in the past five years. I didn’t know five years ago that your favorite birthday gift would be the pack of gum from your aunt. I didn’t know that you would have the most amazing blue eyes I had ever seen in my life (and they are – so beautiful). I didn’t know that you would have a laugh that brings rainbows and sunshine in my head and a smile that would light me up. I didn’t know that you would be so fiercely independent and yet so loving and sweet at the same time. Unfortunately, the only thing that hasn’t changed in the past five years is the fact that you still wake up way too early. Let’s work on that.

I love you with my whole heart. I’m so very lucky to be your mommy.


Know What’s Better Than Donuts? DONUT CAKE

This fall during a spell of Pumpkin deciding that sleep was TOTALLY optional, I made a deal with my daughters: If you are great sleepers all week, on Friday morning we’ll go out for donuts. Yeah, I know, I know – bribing with food… not the best idea (but, I ran into my doc at the grocery store with her son one time – buying HIM a donut for the same reason – because even she knows that kids who sleep are happier and more well rested and so is their mom).

Thus, our Friday tradition was born. Every Friday morning we wake up, get dressed and go out for donuts. If it’s the school year, we time our venture so that we can go right into drop offs after we chow. In these lazy summer days, we get our donuts (I don’t get a donut – I just get a cappuccino bigger than my head) and wander on home.

The other night I was browsing the Williams-Sonoma website (as I do) and stumbled across their donut cake pan. The next morning I was still thinking about it – so I bought it. Fortunately for me, Pumpkin decided she wanted a donut cake for her birthday party this weekend and so it was a TOTALLY JUSTIFIED PURCHASE.

And the cake recipe on the box that accompanied the cake? Pure joy. Tastes like a cake donut. Next time around? I want to add some lemon zest – it was perfect without – but I think a little bit of the tart lemon juice and zest will add a little somethin’-somethin’ to make this cake even more fab. Or, oooh, orange – I love chocolate and orange together like that… Or perhaps? Swap almond extract for vanilla?.  The possibilities are limitless – but even as is, it’s DIVINE.

So, here we go.

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup milk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten

How you do it:

1. Put your ingredients at room temp, lower at least one rack to the lower third of your oven. Preheat to 350°F. Grease and flour both halves of your donut pan [That is, if you bought the donut pan. I think this would work pretty darn well in a bundt pan – but… it wouldn’t look like a donut. That’s okay with me if it’s okay with you]

2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla. Set both bowls aside for now. We’ll find them again later.

3. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter on medium speed ’til smooth and creamy. Add granulated sugar and continue to beat until your mixture is light and fluffy – roughly five minutes-ish. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition.

4. Reduce speed to low and alternate adding flour mixture and milk mixture to your creamed sugar/butter mix. Stop the mixture occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. If you’re using the donut pans, divide your mixture evenly between the two pans, tapping the pans gently on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. You’ll want to spread the batter slightly up the sides so the sides are higher than the center. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean – about 40 – 45 minutes.

If you’re using the donut pans, definitely check the instructions on how to assemble your spiffy little donut.


5 tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot water

What to do next:
1. Melt together chocolate and butter (the directions said to use a double boiler – I don’t have one! I fashioned a faux-double-boiler by putting a small glass bowl over a pan with an inch of water heating in it. I’m not saying my way is a great way. Or even a safe way. Or a way where you won’t burn your fingers. So, use caution).

2. Once the chocolate is melted, whisk in powdered sugar, vanilla, and water until smooth and combined. Pour it over the cake and decorate immediately with sprinkles.

3. Let set for about 15 minutes.


Weekly Winners, Week Ending 7.23.10

Another week gone by – Summer is when I struggle a lot with trying to balance work and play and all my children-schlepping duties and then I’m kind of not picking up the camera nearly as often as I want. Be sure to check out more weekly winners over with Lotus.

blurry girl, blurry guitar

rain rain go away

just hanging out, being cute n' stuff

glub glub

a little long distance voodoo

Thursday Ten: Am I A Mother or a Cabbie Edition

1. With The Princess pretty much occupied with gymnastics and gymnastics practices, we figured it might be a good time to re-enroll Pumpkin in swimming classes. This means running one kid to one class, killing a bit of time before running the other kid to the other class. I hang out at the pool during lessons – and it’s painfully warm by the pool. Get done with swimming to kill a smidge more time before picking up the second kid. Far too much time in my car and it shows – it’s filthy. And when I opened the door this morning, it smelled like yesterday’s cheeseburgers. Not sure which kid left her Happy Meal in there, but… ew.

2. Before heading to swim lessons today, I picked up a copy of US Weekly at the grocery store. I know, I know – it’s hardly rocket surgery, but it’s too hard to read “real” books by the pool because the noise makes it hard for me to focus (Also: bleacher butt pain). I’d rather flip through a magazine. Well… speaking of “rocket surgery” – I forgot to bag said trashy magazine. Fail. Total and complete fail (I ended up reading an issue of Wired. I’d rather have read the trash).

3. Last week, I won a necklace from Studio Jewel, and it arrived yesterday. It’s gorgeous. You’ll want to check Lisa’s stuff out – I think it’s fabulous. I’m eye-ing these stacking rings next. I love silver jewelry.

4. New music, new music. Well, I’ve been listening to some acoustic Jason Mraz (nah, it’s not new, but I finally picked up a few downloads because I love), and Chris Mann’s newest EP, several mixes of a cover of George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” and a song called “Phone Phone”.  All good stuff, and worthy of a listen.

5. Yeah, I  am giving even further serious thought to picking up an e-reader. I jokingly said something a few weeks ago and now they are ON MY BRAIN. I still love books – can’t replace the paper and the smell and the whole sensory experience of reading an ACTUAL book. However? Shelf space is limited, and unless a book is really rotten, I don’t get rid of books. So, Kindle versus Nook is the question, I suppose.

6. We finally signed up for Netflix. I realize, everyone else in the planet has already been using Netflix for the last eighty years, but yeah. Anyway. The Princess is IN LOVE with it though: “Hey mom! Did you know that Cake Boss is on streaming Netflix?” Our queue is filled with multiple episodes of Cake Boss.

7. I expressed last week that I was iffy on the “200 Situp” app – it was being glitchy then. Since I wrote about it in last week’s Thursday Ten, I’ve gotten it to work. It’s still a tiny bit on the glitchy side – but the program is a good one. If you aren’t ready to invest in the app, I believe they have a website as well.

8. ONE MORE WEEK until the new season of PROJECT RUNWAY starts on Lifetime. But, y’know… who’s counting?

9. I’m tremendously conflicted about the “Beezus and Ramona” movie. In a sense, I kind of feel my childhood is getting squashed all over – Selena Gomez as Beezus? That’s not really how I pictured her. I pictured Beezus as kind of plain jane, pales in comparison next to her whacky little sister. The previews seem to focus more on Beezus than Ramona, and seriously? I don’t think so. Will you go see this movie?

10. I need a photo project. This crazy schedule of mine has made me so much less likely to pick up my camera. I don’t know what to take pictures of. I feel like taking pictures but feel like there are only so many pictures of my steering wheel I could take. Shall we do a photo project?

Somedays Are Just Puppy Days

It used to be when someone would tell me, “Oh, we’re thinking about having kids – but first, we figured we would practice by getting a puppy” I would laugh hysterically at them – on the inside, of course. Silly people, I would think condescendingly, you can’t put puppies and babies in the same category. They are hardly comparable. It’s just too different.

Well. I was right.

You cannot put puppies and babies in the same category because frankly (and this comes from someone who has had two babies): BABIES ARE EASIER.

Think about it: You tuck your newborn safely into her crib – you don’t have to worry that while you are out of the room, she might wake up, find your favorite pair of flip flops and sink her already sharp little teeth into them. A, your little baby doesn’t have teeth yet, and B) yeah, she can be safely confined in her crib*.

Or you need to run an errand and you can do it because your baby is wearing a diaper and isn’t likely to go to the bathroom all over the laundry detergent aisle of Target (partly because your adorable baby is probably wearing a diaper**).  Also, most stores allow babies in***.

And if your baby gets hungry while you are out and about, well, feeding is pretty simple too – no matter if you are breastfeeding or formula feeding. Both options are pretty portable. Schlepping a puppy’s bowls and doggy food? Not so much.

I feel that we’ve spent the first few weeks of our puppy’s life with us pretty much hanging close to the home front. First, we were house training him. It was pretty important to effectively AND QUICKLY get the pup trained to reduce mess, stink and inconvenience. Training took just over a week – which I credit to persistence in getting pup outside OFTEN.

Though originally, I intended to use the crate far more than we do, frankly, I don’t want to leave him in it for hours. We plan outings around his meal times (three times a day) and when he might have to go outside to “do his business”. And while we could CERTAINLY ease up on the freaked-out-edness and just LEAVE THE FREAKING HOUSE ALREADY, we’ve been kind of revolving around the puppy.

Yeah. It’s tiring.

I’ve joked for a long time how I am not really a niche blogger – I don’t have any one thing I talk about more than any other thing. Til now. I am talking about this puppy an awful lot, I realize – and please please please do not let me turn into a PET BLOGGER!  I’ve always had a tendency to just write about what’s going on and these days, that’s what is going on. Soon, this pet-owner thing will be smooth sailing – we’ll have adjusted on this learning curve, and I won’t be panicking (I hope) about the puppy’s tendency to nip and how I can’t get Pumpkin to be consistent and work with me on training him (“But MOM! I don’t WANT to tell him ‘no bite’!”).

I figure if there were any other new member of our family, I’d probably be writing about that a lot. And that’s what this doggy is. Despite the fact that I never really wanted any pets, didn’t want a puppy – he’s a part of our family. He’s a lot of work – so it’s a good thing he’s so photogenic.

*Yes, Puppy Dog has a crate, and yes we use it – but not nearly as much as I thought because now he’s house trained and I don’t want to just banish him to crate-hell all day.

**I know they make doggy diapers. I think they’re weird.

***Nevermind the rude stores that give you the evil eye if you walk in the door with a baby. Who likes THOSE stores, anyway?

TIL Tuesday: My Favorite $8 Tee Shirt

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fashionable girl. Sure, occasionally I’ll drop money on some fancy-schmancy item of clothing, but I’m reasonably practical:

I work from home. Jeans and tees are OKAY.

Not only is casual okay, it’s comfortable. And sure, I could sit down to work in my jammies and bunny slippers with my hair up in a shower cap and no one would be the wiser, I need to start my day just like anyone going to an office would: feeling clean, fresh and (at least moderately) put together.

Enter the boyfriend style tee from Target.

I found this shirt in a desperate hunt to find something to supplement my wardrobe with these bazillion degree days we’ve been having. I wanted a light weight, comfortable tee that gave me a little pop of color to my outfit. I was at Target one day (I’m at Target a lot, really), and stumbled over this shirt. I bought it in orange.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I now have it in sky blue, a lovely green, and a rich pink.

Looks super cute with jeans or when you’re slumming in yoga pants.

And it’s eight bucks.

Granted, this is not one of those “investment pieces” they talk about on “What Not To Wear” (and seriously, I’m surprised I haven’t been reported to Clinton and Stacy yet), but… who cares? If I don’t get more than six months wear out of this shirt, I won’t care much. The price was right.

No affiliate links. This product is something I found and paid for on my own, and the opinions expressed above are, as always, my own.

Weekly Winners – Week ending 7.17.10

I guess it’s only fair I warn you:

I didn’t really do anything this week. I have been a hormonal cranky beast (PMS, how I love thee!), and swamped with work and appointments and trying to get from here to there and there to here while balancing and juggling and spinning plates on little sticks and trying to not drop anything.

I survived.

But not much quality time with my Canon (*sad face*). Be sure to pop on over to visit Lotus and the other Weekly Winner participants, though.

Mentos + diet soda = fun Sunday night for the family

My daughters picked these for me. I'm lucky.

Unexpected capture with the point and shoot while out and about

Had my first run-in with puppy vomit on Friday. He's okay now, though.