Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Little Viking


We often joke that Cole was dealt the ‘viking genes,’ so naturally this $1 hat from Tar-jay was a no-brainer!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cookin’ the Book: Pioneer Woman’s Macaroni and Cheese

The past summer was a bit of a streaky blur as I lived it, so I am not really all that shocked I missed my goal of completing all the recipes in The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I’m attempting to cook every one of her recipes (in the book, not her site!)… and my first goal of June 2010 didn’t pan out, nor has goal #2 (by summer’s end).  Oh well, that is no reason to give up!
I was a bit surprised to see this photo nestled among pictures of the kids playing at the beach, though.  I completely forgot about this recipe that I made spontaneously one day for the kids and I to eat with lunch.  Yay, another check in the cookbook—a freebie, almost!  ;)
Pioneer Woman’s macaroni and cheese is basic and delicious.  Dry mustard added to the sauce gives it a nice depth, but adds no heat that kids may find objectionable.  It’s definitely worth a try if you like 'real’ macaroni and cheese, and it comes together quickly.  Find the recipe and a bajillion photos detailing its preparation on PW’s site, HERE.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Away from it all… (aka a really long post)

Last weekend Bun and I joined her Brownie Troop on a Brownie/Mom Camp-out in Uvas Canyon.  It was only 20 or so miles away, but it felt like we were a world away, driving past beautiful golden hills and chaparral, horse farms, and into the canyon.  We explored a lot of the peninsula, coastal, and Marin parks back prekids when we’d hike at least one good long butt-kicker every weekend, but the area east of Morgan Hill remained mysterious to us, aside from knowing it’s hot and dry.

Hot and dry, it is!  But it’s also breathtaking.

The troop arranged for a group campsite at the county park, and somehow we were the very first ones there… so, DIBSIES on site!  We carpooled with another mom/daughter pair, had our tent up, and were ready to go by the time others started to pull up, which was great for the kids, who could play as we all helped each other set camp.


There were at least a half dozen girl and boy scout troops camping that weekend, and, for some reason, the girls thought it would be funny to dance around on a large boulder “embarrassing” the boys.  One could argue they embarrassed themselves, but I suppose you have to feel it to be it, and it was kind of funny to watch them do whatever that was they did.



Everyone had green bandanas, and lots of spunk.


Bandits were on the loose.


There is an amphitheatre, and they started scheming up a skit right away.

Once the moms felt camp was sufficiently set, we gathered for a hike to explore Uvas Canyon a tiny bit, and learn about the plant life along the trail.  I was glad to note I was not the only one who felt compelled to point out evey sprig of poison oak!  There’s some there!  Be careful, sometimes it’s red!



We learned the difference between a creek, a stream, and a brook: this is a creek.  Its flow varies and it can run dry.  (Streams are full year-round, brooks are 12 feet or wider.)




Upon returning to camp, the girls broke into smaller groups to rotate through Try-It activities.  I got to lead one where we looked closely at the ground to see what it’s made of, and what might live in it on the surface, 1” deep, and 3” deep.  The bona fide hit was this creeper, which was 3: deep.


It looked like a wasp or bee, but was clearly underground and had funky crablike claws on its front legs—to dig?  Who knows how it fared from all the poking, but we buried it again, so hopefully it’s back to a peaceful life now.


The girls also made and decorated nature journals.  I think this was the quietest they were all weekend.


Each girl/mom pair helped prepare one meal and cleaned up after one meal.  Dinner was spaghetti with yummy sauce, salad/veggies, and bread, plus lemonade.  The mess kits and dunk bags the girls had were so cute – I know we’ll pack her set for sleep-away camp next summer.


The dunk bags were also cute hung up to dry.  I know, I find cuteness in weird places.  :)


After dinner clean up it was dark, and time for a friendship circle.  It seemed so late, but it was probably 8:00.


I wish I could say we slept like logs.  However, a certain child of mine might have guzzled way too much water and lemonade and might have needed an escort through the woods to the potty a few times.  She also might have been startled by her own blanket grazing her ankle and yelped, thinking it was a rattler.  I was always fully alert upon returning to my sleeping bag, and it seemed to take 30-60 minutes each time for me to doze back off, listening to raccoons make their little trills, and one particularly unhappy child somewhere in the campground wailing intermittently.  By the time the crows were squawking at 7:30 I was happy to get up and have some coffee—and from the bleary-eyed moms around the instant Starbucks coffee bar, I could see I was not the only one who didn’t get quite enough shut-eye.  :)


I was really impressed by this pile o’ eggs.  Carla’s biceps are bulging from the 3 dozen freshly scrambled…


The girls gobbled down pancakes, eggs, cocoa, and fruit.


Once fueled, the girls scampered all over, sometimes pausing to make friendship bracelets.


I made them stop moving long enough to snap this shot, and then ran away so I would not be that mom standing there telling Bunny to please not fall over and over.  Okay, I might have reminded her that the ER was kind of far away… but then I fled the scene.  Kids need to climb trees and do this kind of thing.  No one fell, either—or at least badly enough to tell us.  ;)


Sunday morning flew by, and soon enough it was time to break camp, pack up, and head home.  Bun and her buddy Hailie pretended they were dogs sticking their heads out the windows… such funny chicas.  We really appreciate the leaders’ hard work in arranging this trip.  It was a great time for Bunny and me to enjoy each other without the distractions of those little brothers she hates to love.  I also think it’s good for girls to realize females can do all that stuff that we sometimes classify as ‘man work’ just as well—and sometimes maybe even better!

Friday, September 24, 2010

{this moment}

HappyHollow 004

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kid vs Pool

We have a TON of floaties for the pool.  There are two that you can ride like wobbly horses.  There is an alligator.  Three are tube shaped animals.  Forget about all the balls, diving toys, and water guns.

So, of course, the kids spent an hour or so a couple of weeks back fashioning a raft out of the solar rings and funnoodles.


We watch a lot of Bear Grylls here, and I have to say, compared to some of the crazy rafts he’s made, this is a good one!  They even used kid brooms as oars, and took passengers (Carter) for rides around the pool, teasing him that they were going to go into the deep end and jump off.  (They didn’t.)


As much amusement as they got out of it, we adults also had a good time, heckling and offering tips along the way.  There were probably a dozen versions that were not pool-worthy, but they persisted!


Farewell Summer.  Farewell poolside afternoons.  We will miss you until ~May.

PS – Carter asked I make sure everyone knows he’s wearing his suit.  :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Beast



My daughter and I love to watch Glee, and last night as we watched I kept thinking one thing: I hope Cole never wants to cross-dress. If that was his choice, then sure, we’d support him, but seeing Coach Biest… I kept thinking that was really close to how unfeminine Cole would look as an adult transgender.

He loves to clickety-clack around in my shoes, like many kids do, and it’s hysterical because it usually means singing and dancing… maybe I should call Glee and see if they need a 2.5 year old!

Monday, September 20, 2010

How is it…

…that I woke up this morning, made breakfast for 3 kids, oatmeal for my husband, packed two lunches, fed Cold a snack and lunch, but completely forgot to eat breakfast until nearly 2 p.m.?

I must be full enough from coffee sometimes if I don’t remember to make myself something when the kids eat breakfast, then I have cup #2, then I have some water, and I just… forget. So bad, I know. Then I finally realize I feel so grumpy because I have not eaten anything to speak of for 15 hours. (Derrr.)

I don’t have much time before elementary school pick up, and I want to make sure I don’t really send my blood sugar into a tailspin, so I whip up something healthy pretty quickly…

chicken salad/avocado/basil on sprouted wheat, carrot, figs

…and proceed to eat it off the cutting board, full of bread crumbs, smears of avocado and carrot juice, plus probably some fig. Yep, today’s ‘breakfast’ is a fancy affair. Better luck tomorrow!

Maybe I need a sticky note somewhere that says, "Hey doofus -- you should eat, too."

Saturday, September 18, 2010



After clearing the table, but prior to scraping, putting away, and washing up.  (As you can see, corn was not a popular option in spite of the kids begging me for some… ♪Guess what they’re having with lunch today…♪)


  1. The menu was salmon, fauxtatoes, corn, artichoke, and, for those who desired, jello for dessert.
  2. Fauxtatoes are good, and simple!  If you think you don’t like cauliflower, try it. Steam a head of florets for 12 minutes, blend or puree with about an ounce of cream cheese and 1T butter/smart balance/etc, salt & pepper to taste.
  3. I really like these itty bitty glasses from IKEA.  They are a perfect size for little tummies, they have a shape that helps small hands hold the glasses, and—get this—they’re $0.25 each.  We have 18 of them, since 3 kids times meals and snacks and friends coming to play nearly daily meant I never seemed to have enough for an entire day.
  4. If you have not tried substituting juice for the cold water when making Jello, that’s another thing I really love to do here.  The kids think they’re getting a big treat, and I’m sneaking a fruit in, which is a big thing here for certain middle children who only like apples, bananas, melon, and, um… nothing else.
  5. I have way too many apples right now… I know.  :)
  6. Carter obviously didn’t eat the same things the rest of us did.  I probably don’t need to point out this.

Friday, September 17, 2010

trying a new look…

I have had the same design to this blogarooni for years… and I like the colors, etc a lot, but not the fixed width which seemed to waste so much space and forced me to use smaller photos than I really wanted sometimes, since otherwise the right sides would be cut off otherwise.

SOOOO, a new look of sorts.  I think I like it.  :)

Speaking of looks, Cole has been a real stylist lately.


Here’s his truly favorite outfit, and some snazzy boots.  He’s even striking the 1/4 turn pose… a natural.  :)

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

…wave ‘em around like you just don’t care…

Some days. We all have ‘em. When we’re lucky, someone else we love is having a pretty good day when we’re having a ‘some day’ kind of day, to balance out, or at least let you lean on them for a spell.

When we’re not so much on the lucky side, the ‘some day’ is more widespread. Maybe it lasts for a week. Usually it’s at the tail end of a cold for us, which means nothing has been done enough (laundry, dishes, cooking), but everything feels like too much. It’s enough to make a grown woman want to sit on the floor and have a good fit much like a frustrated two year-old I know might when he can’t line up the magnets on his trains and has used up all his patience. Over the course of the past 8 years there have been some tantrums, I admit. Looking back, they’re pretty funny: one time I was so over-stimulated and pecked-at feeling I threw an unopened box of crackers on the floor and might have then proceeded to stomp on them a little (the next week or so we discovered we were expecting Cole, so perhaps hormones played a small role there, haha).

My point is there are days I wanna call for a mulligan. Except, along the way, there are always gems to sustain. If I could and did push the reset button today, I would have missed block time with Cole, watching him press those blocks together with such force that a long tower always crumbles into two or three pieces. I would not have helped Bun scavenge some bark that had fallen off a tree near school for a fairy boat. Tee Ball time in the back yard would also have gone missed. I tell you what: Carter can whack that ball, even sometimes when pitched!

Some days—those days—you have to take the good bits where you find them. They’re always there, and generally the stuff worth remembering anyway. Why worry about a few stupid dishes? Sometimes, it takes a peek through a viewfinder to realize all the good that is there, just waiting to be noticed… at least for me. Sometimes, that narrower view where I can simply zoom in on the important parts also focuses me. Sometimes, on those days, I just have to throw my hands in the air and decide to enjoy at least some of it (and then do those stupid dishes).


I think our one man tee ball league is shaping up well, by the way.


He has made up a game with himself where he tries to hit the ball through a small window in the playhouse door. I say it’s a great game because the ball doesn’t fly very far before bouncing off the playhouse, which means a weary mama can cheer and admire her son’s prowess more and fetch less.


It is a good idea, however, to be ready to get out of the way when necessary. :)



P.S. It is possible, no, it is probable that tidying up leaves and toys in the back yard is another of those tasks that have slid a bit… oh well!

All By Myself

Cole may be the youngest in our family, but he’s a large presence.  His innate happiness, hopefully, will be one aspect of a fully loaded toolbox to pull from when he needs as an adult (gulp).  I am not kidding when I say this child is love and joy.   Just yesterday I took the boys to get a little treat at Quench after the preschool/elementary school pickup rush—after one of those funny pick ups where I ultimately don’t take home my social butterfly daughter… anyway, when we were at Quench ordering our milkshakes for them and my mango bubble tea (yum!), the boys sat at a table together and told each other back and forth how much they love each other.  Then one probably hit the other one, I’m sure.  The moment was heart warming, though.  :)

My 2.5 year old wonderboy is starting to discover and teach us his little likes and dislikes pertaining to the world around us.  Take this outfit (please!):


Cole likes blue and green.  He likes stripes.  To his thinking, this is just about the best outfit he can possibly assemble.  Some days I just want a sign for his back that says, “I dressed myself today!”  Ya know, in case someone could possibly believe anything else to be the case.

This is different than dressing up, something Cole also enjoys a LOT.  He’s that kid who’s all in the pile of dress up stuff, especially if there is a hat to be worn.  When Bunny was 3 she was obsessed with a Cinderella costume.  I took her out to a LOT of places in that blue sparkly gown… maybe I need to get more boy dress up clothes so he’ll be easily identifiable as Bob the Builder and not Stanley MacStripes.  Of course, he could have a wardrobe with only solids to choose from, but where is the fun in that?

Friday, September 10, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Dirty, Annual Tradition

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau

We have a friend who defies simple explanation.

My kids are fascinated by him, for more than one reason. A really easy reason to put a finger to would be that he stores what I believe would technically be called a whole buttload of stuff in our garage for his annual trip to Burning Man. Like our late August heat waves, Billy’s arrival is known to be looming, but you can’t say just when, or for how long.

He blows in, spends a day or two with us, possibly pushing my most emotionally volatile child into the pool, possibly being pushed in himself—phone in pocket, d’oh! (but he has NO RIGHT TO EVER COMPLAIN ABOUT BEING CHEAPED GIVEN HIS HISTORY and was very good natured about Bunny having taken the opportunity to send him into the deep end)… then the shelves we allow him use of are emptied, his rental truck is filled, and he’s off for a week or two.

Upon returning, the real fun begins for the kids. They get to observe and meddle with the spectacle that is him washing the chalky dust off which permeates everything during near-daily dust storms. Our front yard is completely covered with what looks like the world’s filthiest yard sale, manned by a generally shirtless, nearly albino red headed man. I can’t imagine why no one offers to buy anything.


I won’t lie: cars slow down. Neighbors peer from windows suspiciously. You’d think after 5 years they’d be used to it, and simply think, “Oh, it’s early September again already.” The next day Bunny’s friends ask her what on earth was going on at her house. It’s an event.

Carter sat and watched, transfixed. He also talked, and talked, and talked to Billy. Normally I’d try to keep my kids from pestering an adult. However, this is Billy. I figure it’s only fair to stain him a little. We’ll call it storage rental fees.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010



Pizza in photo is even larger than it appears. The party size pizza from City Pizza is 1) delicious and 2) silly big.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Co-op Cookin’: Green Bean Salad with Mustard Crema

leftover green bean salad with heirloom carrots and tomato-basil sandwich

Growing up we generally had green beans from cans.  Man, they were awful!  I can still feel the weird coating on my teeth and hear the ghastly squeak in my ears as I forced them down… I know canning is a great way to preserve food, but NOT green beans.  Frozen is pretty good, but fresh is really my favorite for this vegetable—and we received a nice big bag each week in our share in August, so I got to try out a few ways beyond amadine (our favorite).

The August issue of Cooking Light had THIS recipe tucked away with farmer’s market recipes.  It’s great as a side on a warm evening or with grilled food, and works well passed around family style.  My husband enjoyed it so much he requested I make it again this weekend.  It’s a keeper of a recipe.

Notes: I’m not a big fan of buying ingredients I won’t use otherwise, so I substituted yogurt that I allowed to thicken by putting in a coffee filter over a mesh strainer for the crème fraîche.  The leftovers in the above photo have a lot of dressing on them, I think because it settled during the intial serving?  At any rate, it was still good.  :)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Summer’s End (Kinda)

So, today is the traditional end of summer, I suppose. However, we’re having mini heat waves and it only feels a little like fall at the extreme ends of the day… those ends of the day are not as early and late as we’re used to, though. Dinner time surprises me daily, it seems. We are accustomed to playing outside in the pool until well after 7:00, and I am not in the habit of thinking about making dinner until about then, too. Suddenly, BAM, we’re eating in the dark, forced to turn on artificial lights (which I hate, ugh).
There is a lot I’ll miss about summer as we grasp at its final bits. For now, I’m thinking I’ll miss coming in to find this.

Cole often decides he wants to go back inside while we’re in the pool in the first afternoon swim, often because it’s nearing his quiet time, but also sometimes because he wants to play, or because he would like a snack… having a decently well childproofed house means I can let him do that and stay out at the one place I always supervise the kids—poolside. It also means King Cole has a bit of freedom. Generally he stays in his bathing suit, but sometimes
It always makes me laugh to walk in and see him au naturel eating at the counter, white butt and all.

Friday, September 03, 2010

{this moment::ready for preschool}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


It must be late summer, because I’m buried in tomatoes.  Buried, I tell ya!  However, I am not ready to ding dong ditch bags at my neighbors’ doors… yet.

A couple of years ago I tried modifying my favorite tomato sauce recipe (2 28oz cans whole tomatoes in sauce, 1 onion (halved & peeled), 4 T butter – simmer 45 mins, remove onion—or don’t—and puree to desired consistency) to be used with my own fresh tomatoes.  I knew how to peel and seed tomatoes, so I figured it would work.

Well, it didn’t!  After cooking and cooking forEVER it was still more like broth and sauce.  Last week I tried a tomato soup recipe from Soule Mama that I really, really loved, and had an epiphany (a small, tomato based one): roasting!  The tomatoes just need a little help in the oven to be awesomely delicious for sauce.


After peeling them, I cored and halved the tomatoes, then roasted them in olive oil with some salt and thyme for 30 minutes at 400.  The result when poured into the soup pot to simmer was much closer to a canned whole tomato.  It’s funny how you don’t see a solution and put away a problem back in the recesses of your mind, then *poof* one day you resolve it.  Sure, it’s a small victory, but when one has 5+ pounds of fresh tomatoes coming in daily and still more in my CSA share, it’s actually not such a small thing.  I’m in no way mentally prepared to learn ‘real’ canning, but I will be freezing a whole lot of batches of homemade sauce to remember a bit of summer in the chilly months that lie ahead.

Oh, and do try the soup recipe.  It’s really very good!  I made it a second time today for us to have for dinner with grilled cheese sandwiches—I cut back the carrots to 2 large ones diced.  Such a perfect pairing… mmm…

Oh, it.


Handwriting is not my oldest child’s strength. Writing out everything that she wants to put on paper takes her so long, and in her haste she forgets written words are meant to be read, meaning they must at least be legible.

On her report card last May the one single item that was not exceeding or meeting grade standard to enter 3rd grade was handwriting. Let’s hope cursive works out better for her. :)


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