BIG news!

There have been some interesting developments around here lately.  Let’s see if you can add it all up.  
1. A large increase in the consumption of my favorite food on earth – Pad Thai. 
2. A rise in consumption of another favorite food – waffles.  (Hence the waffles recipes that have been on here not once, but twice!)  I told you I would explain those waffles, didn’t I? 
3. An increase in lazy evening couch time and less late nights.  
4. An uptick in my incidents of baking.  (My dad always had a theory about this…)
5. A sudden urgent surge in art projects. 
6. Despite finding out that we can now purchase one of my favorite beers (from Utah) on earth in Iowa

7. I am drinking these (fabulous) cranberry mocktails.  
What does this all mean?
It means Greta has some studying to do in the next 5 months or so.  Why you ask?
She’s delighted to say a brother or a sister is on the way!  She’s been repeatedly asking for a boy though.  This explains the drop in creative blog postings for a while this fall/winter.  I just didn’t have the energy for a while there.  
However, now I am feeling great and enjoying the second trimester burst of energy.  And what they say is true, the second one does appear much faster than the first.  Stay posted for an inevitable return of this blog towards all things mommy.  

Greta Turns 2! {Birthday Barley Pancakes and more}

Last weekend my baby turned 2!  I can hardly believe how quickly time has flown – I know it will only continue to move faster.  
We started off the birthday weekend with some fishing.  We discovered that Greta really enjoys fishing – except when the big fish comes out of the water, then we only want to run off of the dock.  
Greta is lucky enough to share her birthday weekend with her Grandpa, holding her in this photo.  We celebrated with my father in law and extended family on Saturday.  
This meant a dinner of sushi from the fantastic Miyabi 9 in the East Village of Des Moines.  Des Moines has some fantastic places to dine – I feel like I am getting to know my hometown all over again – everything is so different in the eight, more like twelve years since I last lived in town. 
Sunday morning, Greta awoke to find this mobile hanging from the kitchen light at my parents’ house.  I hastily made it the night before so she would see her favorite things in the morning.  The dog, bee, fish, and car are all made from newspaper and stuffed to appear more 3D.  The G and 2 are made from colored construction paper.  
Just as I suspected, she loved this mobile and spend a few moments going over each and every item.

I mixed up the dry and wet portions of the pancakes the night before, so all I had to do in the morning was allow them to warm up slightly before combining them and cooking.  If you plan ahead, there is no need for tasteless pancake mixes.

I like to use 1/8 cup measuring cups to make my pancakes, this way they are more manageable for small hands.

Eric got to work on some more of those tart cherries.  It is quite the bumper crop year!

We added tart cherries for the adult pancakes and blueberries for Greta’s pancakes. 

Her party was a hit – we had it outside at my parents’ house.  Greta was all smiles the entire evening.

As always, she was spoiled rotten.  Her Great Grandma got her some pink pants and her Momo (what she calls my mom) helped her open them.

The ice cream cakes from Dairy Queen were exceptionally good – I personally loved the chocolate peanut butter pretzel one (good choice, Eric).  By the way, this is Greta’s cheese face when the camera comes out.

 There may or may not have been a large pile of brush.

It may or may not have burned.

All in all, it was a lovely June.  Until next June, save your Christmas trees. 

Birthday Barley Pancakes – 16 – 20 pancakes

1. In a bowl combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/2 cup barley flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2. In a small bowl whisk together: 2 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk (or milk or milk alternative + 2 tablespoons lemon juice), and 4 tablespoons cooking oil.

3.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add egg mixture all at once.  Stir quickly, just until all ingredients are mixed.  Batter will be lumpy.

4.  Pour 1/8 – 1/4 batter onto pre-heated griddle.  Drop fresh blueberries or tart cherries into batter.  Cook 2-4 minutes per side, flipping when edges are slightly dried and center is bubbly.  Cook 2-4 more minutes on other side.  Serve warm with topping of your choice. 

Mommy’s Musings: Spring Break

This teacher is officially on spring break!  My thrift find of the week: a LaVia shirt that I would never ever pay full price for.

Spring break means more time with Greta due to

yearbook being officially done and turned in.

Spring break also means more time for Blog postings.  Target now sells these babies – more on cloth diapering coming soon.

Spring break means more time for art projects.  This will be explained in subsequent posts.

April is Autism Awareness Month – more on this to come.

North Carolina Transportation Museum + Spicy Roasted Vegetables

The past week has kept our family moving, moving, moving.  We were out of the house for a while on Saturday due to an open house.  We decided to head over to the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park for a walk on Saturday.  The weather was unbelievable – sunny and 73 degrees!

Greta enjoyed riding in her backpack and watching the re-enactors make dinner and sit around their tent encampments.

We only saw one Red Coat traipsing around the woods.

The following day, on Sunday, the weather was still warm, but more overcast.  My front garden is a riot of yellows, violets, whites, pinks, and green right now.  I am still impressed that the leftovers from my spinach and lettuce bed grew all winter long and are now in full bloom.  
On Sunday, we decided to head to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina.  I know, what is it with us and the museums that display all things transportation?

The train ride and round house ride were fun.  Greta kept making buzzing train noises the entire time we were there.  
Greta was dying to climb on every train we encountered.  Luckily there were a few areas where steps had been installed to allow you to climb up and look inside some of the trains.  The sheer size of these machines is impressive.  

Each view made me want to come back with my old-school 35 mm camera loaded with black and white film.  Luckily, we did have the Diana and shot a few 120 mm film.  When that gets developed I will share the images with you.

 The lighting, lines, textures…all an art teacher’s dream place to take art students.

 Of course the orange school bus caught my eye.

This building has been recently remodeled and will eventually be open to the public.  As of right now, you are only able to stand behind the chained off areas.  This room will help turn this train-themed museum into a more transportation oriented visit.  
We walked around for a couple hours and looked at all the exhibits we were able to see.  The museum is still on its way to being spectacular, but is well worth the visit.  The parking lot starts at the train depot, there are plenty of picnic tables, plenty of sites, and the historic downtown Spencer is just on the other side of the tracks.  
Greta slept the most of the hour ride home and was ready for dinner as soon as we rolled into the driveway.  Luckily, I had an easy plan for dinner – leftovers and some delicious hot and citrus flavored roasted vegetables.  It must seem like we live off roasted vegetables and well, we do.  It is just simply the way I like my vegetables.  

Goodness this was an easy Sunday evening meal.  I had the vegetables all prepped from the day before – I simply sliced them, placed them in a pan, drizzled the marinade on the top, covered, and placed in the fridge until I was ready to roast.

Spicy Roasted Vegetables

1. Quarter and then halve: 1 small or ½ of a medium head of red cabbage.  Cut into wedges: 1 small onion.  Halve and then cut into 2-inch segments: 2 large carrots.  Arrange all vegetables on rimmed baking sheet.

2. For the marinade: spray vegetables with olive oil until well-coated.  Sprinkle lemon juice, lime juice, and chipotle hot sauce.  Toss until evenly coated.  

3.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

DIY Glitter Wand

I had a glitter wand when I was a kid and I remembering playing with it all the time.  It was tubular and filled with pink, purple and glow-in-the-dark glitter.  I fondly remember holding it up to my eyes to make the room appear pink.  I used to flip it end over end to watch the glitter slowly slide around inside.  One time a friend was over, and I remember us charging it in the light and then taking it inside my closet to watch it glow, only  to find we were locked inside the closet with no way out!  We lived in an older house, and the closets did not have doorknobs on the inside.  My friend and I, terrified, began to cry.  Our cries caught the attention of my younger sister, and we convinced her to go and find my dad who was outside, except she forgot her task along the way and was distracted by watering plants.  Finally, after what seemed an eternity, my dad asked what the other two kids were up to.  He discovered sobbing, snotty little girls inside a closet.  
I wanted to make Greta a version of my wand, sans glow-in-the-dark matter to avoid a repeat closet episode.   With all her sick time this past week, we needed a reason to get out of the house on this rainy and gloomy morning.  
So, we headed over to A.C. Moore.  Sadly, they lost their lease and are in the process of selling everything at at discount.  This is both good and bad.  Good for the cheap prices and bad because I will miss A.C. Moore.   I have always preferred them to Michael’s.  
Greta was a big help in the store – clearly she figured out how to bargain shop – $.25 wooden spoon and $1 foam construction hat.  Big spender!  
I found some glitter, silver pom poms, and giraffe confetti for her glitter wand.  I really and truly do hate glitter unless it is contained, so, this project took me out of my art & craft comfort zone.  Notice I chose large glitter, none of that horrid tiny, dust-like glitter.  It is fairy puke – pretty but not fun to clean up.  The things one will do for her child…
I put the glitter, poms, and confetti into a clean soda pop bottle and then filled it almost to the top with water.  I made sure to leave some space at the top so that there would be a couple air bubbles.  Then I glued the lid shut with Gorilla Glue, let it dry, and handed it over to Greta.  Her initial reaction was of intense staring.  

 She then turned it over a few times, watching carefully as the glitter slid around inside.

 Then she shook it violently, stopping every now and then to watch how the glitter settled.

Finally, growing tired, she handed it over to me, where she proceeded to drum on the side of the bottle. This was a huge hit for Greta and continues to be throughout this week.  Just remember, as with any toy with smaller parts, always use with caution and supervise play.  
I could see this being a neat paper weight on a desk or even a calming object for older children.  I am certain it would be a hit with my middle school students as well – I may have to test it out on them tomorrow.  
Check out Discount School Supply for great deals on glitter, pom poms, confetti, and more!
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Thrifty Mama: Finds of the Week

After a very long and tiring work week, I stopped by Goodwill before picking up Greta on Friday.  I went in with the express purpose of finding her a few items in 2T.  I know, where has my baby gone?  I only wanted a few things to tide us over so that when she finally does bump up a size we are not left trying to be those parents squeezing her into something too short and tall small.  Not that it has stopped me in the past – especially with the really cute outfits.  I got this whole stack for her (and yes, not a thing for me).  You can check out a previous post on thrift shopping here for tips and suggestions.

I know some people for whatever reason are against Goodwill, I am sure there are reasons.  However, for me, I love to seek out the oddball finds, the this-is-brand-new-with-tags finds, and the it-was-how-much-new?! is my favorite find.  I figure when you work with permanent materials as often as I do and send a child to daycare to be messy, cheap clothing isn’t all that bad.

Plus it is a lot easier to own more clothing when you have paid less for it.  🙂

These first two outfits are two of Greta’s favorite things – dogs and cats.  The cat one is just hilarious since she likes to almost smash the cats.  Both are from Crazy 8 and were anywhere from $8 – $13 new.   The purple pants are generic and we will say, conservatively, $7 – $10 new.   Ok, so if we total the top end of those estimates, we are at a total of $36 so far.  Let’s keep going!

 Janie and Jack jeans – super cute dark wash and a San Francisco label.  You know that means the $$ signs!  These are anywhere from $30 – $40 new.  So now we are at a total of $76.

Since summer will be here before I know it, and Greta tends to stick with sizes for an extended time, I couldn’t pass up the shorts and tee shirt.  The two tops are also Crazy 8, so again, $8 – $13 new.  The Guess velour pants are $25 – $30 new and the Puma shorts are about $20 new.  So now we are at a total of $152.

I threw in these pink organic cotton pants from et toi, even though I did not make a matched outfit.  She has clothing at home that will go with these pants.  Normally, when I buy for Greta from consignment or thrift, I try to always buy sets.  That way, I am not sifting through her drawer trying to match oddball things together.  It is also more sensible to shop this way for her, it keeps me from buying too much at one time.  These pants would be about $20 new.  Now we are at a total of $172.

This was the diamond of this trip though.  I saw this on the hanger and knew it was a good find – the drape, the fabric (modal), the style, the little bow, and the tag.  Jacadi Paris.  Usually if I have time I whip out the smart phone and search for labels to keep a running total of $$ in my head, but this time I was running late and just trusted my gut.  

 Sure enough, $70 – $100 new.  Sigh, if only it would fit me.  Ah well, it could always become doll clothing later on.  Or maybe some family members or friends of ours will inherit it someday.  Ok so the Jacadi dress brings us to a total of $272 new.  But how much did I really pay?

$19.  That’s right, $19 versus the $272 I could have paid for these 11 pieces of clothing. I could have paid a teensy bit less, but I let them round up the price to an even dollar as a donation.

What keeps you from shopping at thrift stores OR what has been your best thrift store find?  Leave me a comment below!

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Mommy’s Musings

There are plenty of good things going on around here this week.  I for one, am so glad it is already Wednesday.  It seems like this house cannot make it more than 2 days without some sort of illness.  Anyone else got this going on?  Onto the things going on around here this week…

More Valentine’s Day cards are rolling out this week.  This year I decided to combine my love of collage and sewing and go for the sewn paper technique.  I have been loving it – the quickness of stitching the paper allows for a faster pace than my typical glue or glue stick method.  More of these to come later on.

Lots of yard work going on due to the extra daylight.  I love coming home to the prospect of working outside, walking, or playing with Greta for an hour or two after work.  We found this little guy in the front garden bed.  He was moving pretty slowly though so we placed him near the house.  I don’t think he made it – I found a crumpled little snake on the sidewalk a couple days later.

Greta is a bookworm.  She loves to bring her books, blanket, and Winky (her stuffed pink lamb) into her tent and read.  Usually she demands that mom or dad climb in with her – the quarters are a little cramped then.  This little bed/tent is fantastic – it zips from the outside, has an inflatable air mattress, and is perfect for travel because it folds flat into a nice little disc.

Good breakfast’s galore.  We have had some tasty breakfasts lately.  This one was my most recent favorite – cinnamon raisin french toast with cottage cheese and apricot jam on the top.  You have to try this!

If you like Goodnight Moon, check out Goodnight iPad.  You won’t be disappointed!