Friday, December 31, 2010

{this moment}

christmas2010 009

{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, December 29, 2010

Christmas Handmades

It’s funny to think how few days ago Christmas was~seems like it’s been ages, instead of 4 days.  I’ll wait until Monday or Tuesday of next week to undo the decorating, but it’ll definitely be put away well before Cole’s big 3rd birthday on the 9th.  :)  A lot of the boxes have already been picked up by the refuse folks as of this morning, and I put most of the remaining broken down cardboard into the cart as soon as I rolled it into the garage.  I love the decorations, but I am ready for just plain old normal—or really, whatever holiday the kids want to gussy up the joint for next (Valentine’s?).

We had our fun making handmade presents, and here are a few of them:

This litter of scotties went up north to live with friends in Portland.  (Hope they have made it there and I’m not spoiling anything – I only mailed them on the 21st.) Pattern HERE.  We loved these guys so much, we ended up making a few more for closer friends… they’re a good beginner project, and with each dog, Bun was able to do more of the work herself.  We also made homemade cat toys with a little catnip in the stuffing.  :)

I love this scarf pattern that I used to make my father a muffler.  It has a nice checkered effect that looks far more complicated than it is, so I could sit and only halfway pay attention to it while also watching the kids play outside.  Carter liked it so much, he wants one, too, though I think he’d weaponize it given the chance.  :)  Pattern HERE.  There are so many patterns in this blog that I want to make.  I guess I want to wring everyone I know’s necks (with a scarf), given the time.  :)

This stained glass star I gave my sister was handmade, but not by me.  I found it HERE.  I had envisioned it exactly where she chose to put it, on a high window above the mantle in her living room.  Isn’t it a pretty bit of color with that freak semi-blizzard outside?  I chose that color because it ‘goes’ with her living room and also in a way, it evoked a starfish to me and a seaside color (she lives near the beach).

We also made blondies, chocolate & mint chip cookies, granola, soup-kits… and Bunny made a papier mache bowl for her grandpa.  All in all, I think we put a lot of ‘us’ into the gifts this year, and I think it showed.  Bunny and I both are excited to do even more next year.  :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

::the storm::

More about our very nice Christmas Day later, but for now… the storm after that quiet morning shot I posted Friday.

christmas2010 055

I still can’t figure out what to vacuum in that area, because the detritus around there is just as likely tiny toy piece (hello, itty legos) as trash.  The kids are loving it all, of course.  :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Vintage Christmas Card, originally uploaded by Zero Discipline.

Wishing you a very happy day full of what and who you love.

Friday, December 24, 2010

{this moment::the quiet}


{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, December 23, 2010

How to Occupy a 5 Year-Old Boy On Christmas Eve-Eve in 2 Easy Steps

  1. Buy assorted nuts in the shell.
  2. Give nuts and nutcracker to boy.



Hours of entertainment so far.  :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Perfect Tree

I read a blog post recently by someone who, more or less, said they’d learned that they were not going to have a ‘perfect’ tree as long as they had small kids.  The author’s reasoning was that kids make ornaments, and, in a nutshell, that made for a messy tree, and she was just going to have to accept that (for the meantime—I suppose until those pesky kids stopped making ornaments and wanting to choose them, too).

That made me sad.

I guess, to many a “perfect” tree is a pretty generic, impersonal item.  Say, one at a department store, or maybe only with ornaments that match the drapes and upholstery or all fall within a scheme.  Perfect trees can’t ever have colored lights—except maybe gold.

By that definition, my tree is a catastrophe.  I like colored lights—and gaudy ones, to boot.  Every ornament is unique.  Everyone gets what they like each year as a personal choice ornament, which, if they like, can serve as the foundation of their own tree when they’re grown (though, I hope I get to keep some of the ones from their earliest years).  I can see that in a year or two it’ll be time to have a children’s tree because we’re running out of space to fit all our eclectic mishmash on one tree.  And, I think it’s pretty dang great.


As you can see, we also had a few snowflake making sessions.  It’s as close to the real thing as we get here.  :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Outside Looking In

Mondays are a long day here.  My husband isn’t home until pretty late—after the kids are in bed, and last night I just let ‘em watch Santa Buddies on TV until it was Bun’s bedtime and both boys already had fallen away to dreamland.  They were so snuggly on the sofa, one on each end, and it was nice to have no children making all their noisenoisenoises, so I let ‘em be.  I had a lot of puttering to do, and also wanted to stay up to watch the eclipse, and enjoyed the peace of being as close to all alone as I get for a quiet hour before Paul returned home and a different noise and energy arrived with him.

I was worried that I would not be able to see any of the eclipse because we’ve had rain for many days now, but, through gaps in the eerie pinkish clouds I was able to see it happen.  Now, I would not set an alarm to see the eclipse—I like sleep a LOT—but staying up a little later than I normally do was well worth it.

It was so chilly outside, and I kept running back in to the warmth of my home, each time exclaiming to my nonplussed husband that I was soooo cold (he never seems to think sky stuff is as cool as I do, but then again, I could live a million happy lives never knowing the technical gobbledygook he likes, so touche).  He pointed out I was only wearing a sweater and had sandals on… he’s always insisted I don’t have a proper appreciation for high tech outerwear, and he’s right.  I prefer being warm and not looking like a Puffalump, too. 

I liked it outside, however.  It was very quiet.  After a day of mostly happy, yet always loud noises, my ears rang in the sudden silence as if the little bones in there forgot how to be still and not hear anything.  All the chairs are inside or stacked for winter, so I lay on the concrete until I began to shake with cold, watching the moon play peekaboo with the clouds and a really large shadow.  I wished it were warmer.  Last summer, during a meteor shower, it was warm enough to gaze up quietly for as long as I wanted, though it was not as quiet because it’s never fully quiet when windows are open and summer nights invite long evenings outside.

Finally I began to shudder, and knew I had to get up and go in, probably for good, since I was also yawning, and, even though it’s winter break, the kids will only sleep a little longer than usual.

Then I saw.  Everything good was in there anyway.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Partly Handmade Christmas

Ever since, oh, forever, I have aspired to the time, ability, and gumption to do an all handmade Christmas.  To me, handmade gifts are the best ones, as the thought and intention is there in every smidgeon of the present.  I suppose, for me, that saying about what “counts” in a present is very true.  But, I realize I’m not typical in that way, and that’s where the disconnect flusters me.  I’ve hesitated for years and years, often making something by hand then changing my mind and sending something “more appropriate” or “better” (i.e. brand name), worrying my intent will be misconstrued or the recipient would think my present stinks.

I’m fully aware I have, for lack of a better word, passions that are disconnected with the way a lot of people think and do.  I truly like to make things a lot of people would rather slit their wrists than do, and I have no qualms about putting a “do not disturb” sign on the door when I feel my family needs time to be quiet or together—really, I do put up a sign.  There are days when I forget to take down that sign until the next morning… and then chuckle realizing that’s why the afternoon was so calm.  :)

I know a lot of people do not feel that way.  There can be no other explanation for prediced onions in the produce section… and I sometimes get the pushback that sends me the message that people think, when I say how I do things, I am projecting that onto them—that I think they should, too.  I don’t.  Heck, I am very contrary.  If anyone told me I had to do something a certain way, I wouldn’t.  I come from a very long line of pains in the ass. 

Perhaps that as much as anything is why I try to be more old school in certain ways: I’m stubborn and don’t take much for face value.  I also have an odd grudge against people overvaluing their time/effort.  People who leave their carts where they please in a parking lot have a special area in the hell of my imagination.  :)  I have a gift of time—to spend with my family and doing for them.  I truly do care about whether I am wasting resources, be it on a small or large scale, which is why I participate in a local CSA.  But I also try to be realistic: yes to reducing paper products to the point that our family of 5 uses less than 3 rolls of paper towels a month, but NO to cloth diapers (sorry, I can NOT handle them—I am not equipped with the dealing with excrement gift, and can call in witnesses to attest to this).  Better is better, I say.  But perfectionism is a four letter word that leads to despair.

And, oddly, it was perfectionism of a sort that crippled my confidence to make and give handmade gifts.  I still don’t have the time, ability (aka speed), and gumption to do an all handmade Christmas, but we’ve made baby steps this year.  Bunny’s teacher got two handmade gifts: one for her tummy, and one less perishable.  Bun and I can’t share much of our handwork yet, but this one we can, as it’s already been opened.  It was a team effort – the little bookworm.


Bun was so proud of her part in it, she wanted to make one for a classmate’s birthday, too.  I arrived to pick her up from the party which was running a little late, and was able to watch the gift opening portion, and I admit it!  I felt that familiar anxiety when the birthday child was opening his loot.  There were so many presents that were so much larger than Bun’s small package and hand drawn card (an excellent picture of a phoenix), and I started to worry that the child would be underwhelmed by her gift to him, not realizing hours of work went into it, and also that Bunny would feel bad about it and be sad.

I am a lovable little guy.  Appreciate me.  Please?

But you know what?  The bookworm was a hit.  And, once word got out that Bun made it, a few of her friends asked if she would please make them one for their birthday, too.  Bun felt far from sad about it—she was pleased and proud.  I was very relieved, because no one wants their child to feel small in that way.  It also did my heart good, and gave me hope that maybe my own less flashy gifts would be understood.  We shall see.

Oh so good, quick, easy…

If you’re needing a last minute gift, this really is a thoughtful one—and it’s only a more or less hands-off hour of work.  Add a label and some fabric for the top… et voila.


I have made THIS RECIPE twice now, first with canola oil then with coconut oil—go with the coconut.  It ends up being subtle, but adds a certain something.  It’s awesome over yogurt.  Try it!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Buzzy buzzy busy!

Seems my hands have been so buzzy, I mean busy this week I have not had time to do the things I normally love, like share inanities on this blog. :)

My busy hands have been making and doing and cookin, driving to and fro, and making some more. Sadly, a lot of it is secret agent Christmas stuff, so I can't even share photos (yet).

Much fun being had though... more to come.

Friday, December 17, 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.

Monday, December 13, 2010



Note to self: do not let this child watch one of those dumb Parkour shows.  Ever.

Friday, December 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.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Weekly Menu, A Little Late :)

Sunday night—or I guess it was really very early Monday morning, Cole woke and it took me a while to get him back to sleep, then a lot longer to go back to sleep myself, so I was running on fumes yesterday.  Planning the weekly menu never happened, and I regretted it when I was sitting at the computer that night plugging ingredients into recipe finders trying to find something both interesting and quick enough to let this tired mama spend as little time as possible in the kitchen.  I found a dinner we liked, but it reinforced my conviction that dinner time is NOT the time to be deciding what to make.

I think I dozed off by 9:30 last night, trying to stay up late enough to at least mumble goodnight to my husband, who has a late night Mondays.  I was watching a show exploring the consequences of a hypothetical utter disappearance of every human on earth, and I only vaguely remember something about mass nuclear meltdowns a week or so later…  at any rate, I got a much better night’s sleep and am getting that menu planned so I don’t face my own meltdown at about 6 p.m.

Monday: Mushroom and Sausage Ragu with Polenta (subbed fauxtatoes)
Tuesday: Steamed Clams, braised chard
Wednesday: Cabbage Rolls (huge CSA cabbage begs for this)
Thursday:  Carnitas & chicken enchiladas (two kinds, not mixed (ew), carnitas left over from last week)
Friday:  Salmon, green beans, kabocha squash
Saturday: Mexican Chicken-Hominy Soup
Sunday: Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy


Monday, December 06, 2010

Tortoise or Hare?

Nature Mantle, originally uploaded by Kristianna.

A few weeks before Christmas my sister and I would arrive home after school to a house utterly transformed from the way it looked that morning. Our normal house would be in full holiday mode: bows on staircase spindles, a special 12 Days of Christmas ornament set hanging from the chandelier, every flat surface a display of some sort--all done that day sometime between 9 and 3.

I am possibly the world's slowest holiday decorator. It takes me a week or more, in little bursts. Just today I am putting away the Thanksgiving handprint turkeys, painted leaves, and gourds and have hung the wreaths by the front door. The rubbermaid bins remain in the garage while I mentally rearrange things, probably to be pulled out in 2 or 3 more days. What I'm saying is I'm not speedy, and I am okay with that.

What's your style? Are you a tortoise or a hare? Is it by choice or nature, and do you enjoy your way of doing things?

As for me, at this time, I am content that I'm not one of those all in a day decorators. I tweak and adjust the entire time, practically until I am putting everything back away again. It's just how I roll, I guess. Whenever I try to live up to some expectations formed by idealism or too many holiday magazines, I become cranky, and then no one has much fun... and isn't fun the point of it all, anyway? If I'm not even enjoying it, then why bother? My kids will remember the overall feeling of a holiday more than whether we made the gingerbread house before or after break started.

(And yet, I do someday imagine the thrill of that 'big reveal' upon returning home... I guess this tortoise has to dream, ha ha.)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

‘Tis the Season

We’re in it now, baby.  Some people consider Thanksgiving to be the start of the “Holiday Season.” Others, like the people who put out seasonal displays at Target, seem to think a few days before Halloween is better.  For me, though, it takes something more than a date.  It’s a feeling, man.  ;)

Yesterday was the Children’s Holiday Parade here, and I think we all left with that sprit.  I admit, I woke that morning thinking, “Ugh.  Logistics.”  I am the family logistics person (as well as the cranky plumber cum handman, but that is another story), and I just wasn’t feeling it, yo.  However, once the coffee started to stream through my nerve system, I pulled up the street closure/parade route map, and realized, yes, we can do this.  Yes, we can, if you will.   (Either a political or Bob the Builder reference, depending… handy phrase!)

Bunny marched with her Brownie troop again this year, and they had been working for a couple of weeks on the float and costumes.  There were 200+ participants this year, and, as you might imagine, the area is a crazy mess of parked cars, confused drivers who had not checked a route map, a few completely clueless people driving around with Christmas trees on their roofs—clearly they’d chosen the wrong morning to run that errand—and thousands upon thousands of revelers.  Overall, the mystified tree people aside, it was a happy, chaotic crowd.

We dropped off Bun at their meeting spot, then I did a most excellent parallel parking job (really, I should live in Manhattan because I have some skills, I tell you), and we walked a few blocks to score a very good viewing spot that was also close to where I had to scurry to pick up Bun after her group finished the route.

Another reason I was just not in the mood for a parade was that there was a good chance of rain yesterday.  Driving towards downtown Los Gatos we would pass under random showers.  I’d packed our rain gear, but still, it was not looking like it’d be an overwhelmingly fun time to stand in the rain watching soggy paraders.

As we walked to the Civic Center where we set up to watch every year, we were sprinkled upon.  “Do I look like a tool with my hood like this?” my husband asked me.  He did.  It was pulled closed and he looked like Kenny from South Park, but in a blue North Face shell.  “You always ask me that kind of question, and then, if I say yes, you get offended and then do whatever it was anyway in a huff.  Why ask me?”  “So, I do look like a tool?”  “C’mon, let’s go honey… and yeah, a little.”  The boys were adorably cozy in the stroller.


Cole couldn’t make it the 10 minute walk before he was snoozing.  When Cole sleeps, that is it – you don’t wake him if humanly possible because he is a grump if you wake him before his little brain is ready.  In fact, he can be completely, irrationally, broken… so we let him be.


Rain means umbrella to Carter, and he was excited to run about menacingly with his.  However, just a few minutes after we arrived something fantastic happened: the sky cleared.  Yay!

We had about 30 minutes before the parade was to begin, plus we were at the end of the route, so we had even more time—plenty of time to get some running and exploring out of systems.


Paul and Carter went to check out the very fancy car store across the street.  Carter reached his little hand through the fence, touched a bright yellow Lamborghini, and said that was all he wanted to do.  :)


Carter was really more interested in tree climbing.  Sadly, the branches on this redwood start about 30 feet up, so he really only trunk scrambled.


No tree climbing for him.

But, hey!  Parade!







Carter, for the record, still is not understanding kilts.  He thought the bagpipes were cool, though.

I thought the next section of the parade surely would awaken Cole.  These came through, sirens BLARING.




But, nope!  He shifted a little, but slept right through it.


Carter thinks a huge Packard would be an ideal family car.  I kind of agree, but suspect it gets 1 mile to the gallon.  Maybe less.


Cool logo, though!


All the municipal groups and politicians had passed, and it was time for the real gems.  Cute kids on flatbeds!


I really don’t know what. the. heck. the story is here.  Men in undershirts with enormous zucchinis and Santa hats.  Why??


We had just watched this movie the night before!


Just a bunch of people walking goats.  It took me a few blinks to realize they were not really weird dogs.  :)


And here’s Carter’s favorite non-cool-car entry!



I think these guys here were having as much fun as every single other person in or watching the parade combined.  They were awesome!





Sweet wooden bike.  Again, not sure why, but still cool!


Then came the moment my family was waiting for – my big girl and her pals.




They really did a nice job with the gingerbread house, I think.  A few girls rode in the house, but many chose to ride scooters, which they decorated as peppermint candies.



After I walked Bun back to where Paul and her brothers were, we found an awake Cole!




We watched the last half of the parade, and all agreed that it’s now the Holiday Season, for sure.


For some reason, the stilt walkers from a way early in the parade were walking up and down this side street near us.


The kids were mystified.  They also had a question.

How do you get down?
I sit on a car—my car—and I unstrap the stilts.

Now you know.



Happy Holiday Season, y’all!


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