Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our Advent Calendar

Tomorrow is the first day of December and the kids will get to put their first ornament on the advent Christmas Tree and one new ornament each day thereafter until Christmas. I know it doesn't look like much, but there is history to this Christmas Tree. This was my advent calendar that my mother made (I'm guessing here) around 1980. It's about 18" x 30" made out of felt and shimmery green ric-rac. There are 4 pockets along the bottom, cleverly hidden as snow to house all of the ornaments until they are placed on the tree. She made all of the felt ornaments. There are only 24 ornaments though. I don't know if one is missing or if there were only 24 to begin with. Either way, I think I'm going to make a few new ornaments to replace all of the "Holy Trinity" ornaments.
Tomorrow, the star will go on the top of the tree as that was always the first one to go on and the manger will be the last. Here's hoping that this advent calendar will become one of their favorite Christmas traditions as it once was one of mine.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No Such Thing As Too Much Turkey: Cuban Picadillo

I love (almost) one pot meals. Meals where the meat and vegetables marry into a superb tasting supper without a lot of fuss, time or major clean-up. That's why stir-frys, casseroles, jambalaya and soup are consumed frequently in our house. This recipe for Cuban Picadillo is easy and super-tasty. I can make the whole meal during nap and it can simmer it's little heart out until it's time to sup.

Cuban Picadillo
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 1/2 cups sliced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup green olives (about 15)
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 8oz. can tomato sauce

1) Brown turkey with a little bit of oil in a dutch oven. Drain and set aside.

2) Saute' garlic and onion until soft 3-4 minutes. Add peppers and carrots cook 3-4 more minutes. Return turkey to pan. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a slight boil, reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with rice.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Days 'Til Turkey Day

I can't believe Thanksgiving is almost here. I had all of these really great intentions to post several more Thanksgiving activities, but it seems I've almost run out of time. My children have been not-so-interested in "projects" lately. So, I've been playing trucks, hockey,wrestling and tea party instead of cutting, pasting and coloring.
On the home front: My son, it seems, has entered the terrible 3's. It's been pretty stressful around here. He can throw a mean tantrum over socks and coats and seemingly nothing at all. Last night, he pulled his first lay-down-on-the-floor-in-a-public-place-and-refuse-to-leave maneuver. It was really awful and the night only got worse from there. It seems that ignoring all antics and speaking in a really soft voice works well to get Eli under control. Problem is that ignoring and speaking really soft is NOT what I want to do so it takes an immense amount of control on my part to be the mommy instead of joining in and being a 3 year old! Here's hoping that this phase is a quick one.
Did I mention that I'm also potty-training a two year-old? We've been going strong for two weeks now and Sadie's doing great, staying dry most days. Yesterday was the first time she actually told me she had to go pee before the floor was wet, so that was awesome. The big thing is that she's been dry at night numerous times, which is more than I can say for her three year-old brother! I'm really looking forward to being diaper free. I love the Fuzzi-Bunz, but it's time to end the washing of the diapers and move on to big-girl underpants. The only drawback with Sadie using the potty is that it seems my son now thinks he has to wipe his penis every time he pees. **Sigh** One step forward, two steps back...
On the camera front: After much hemming and hawing I decided on the Nikon Coolpix s210 over the Sony Cybershot w-120. I ordered it on because they have free shipping and, most importantly, the color I wanted so I'll let you know how I like it once it arrives and I get to play around with it a little bit!
I'm hoping I can get on tomorrow to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, but in case I don't... Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Turkeys and Time For A New Camera

I'm pretty sure that hand-print turkeys have been around for about 200 years, but it's a fun activity to do every year. We turned ours into Thanksgiving cards for the grandparents. I already have a hundred of these hand-prints all over my windows and walls so someone else should share my wealth!
On a completely different subject, I think my camera is totally crapping out on me. All of the pictures I've taken in the past week have been really really hazy. I would like a really nice SLR camera, but feel I should just get a point and shoot camera for everyday use and keep wishing for a SLR camera say when we finish paying off our student loans in thirty years. Does anyone have a camera that they absolutely LOVE?? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Coffee Filter Turkeys

Sorry, about the pictures. I don't know what's going on with my camera...Materials:

  • coffee filters
  • watercolor paint (or markers and a spray bottle filled with water)
  • brown construction paper, cut into a turkey body shape
  • red construction paper, cut into small wattles
  • glue
  • googly eyes (optional)


1) Paint the coffee filters using water colors (or with the markers and spray bottle, like we did when we made butterflies). I don't have the cake water-colors. We use the squeeze-tube kind and add water to it, which works better for the little kids as not everything turns brown. Allow the coffee filters to dry.

2) Fold the coffee filters not quite in half, but so it looks like the turkey has two rows of feathers. Add a little glue to keep the coffee filter halves together.

3) Glue the brown turkey body onto the center of the coffee filter.

4) Add the eyes and the wattle.

Gobble, Gobble!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Free Rice

Did you know that 25,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related problems? Well, here's a small way you can help. Go to and play a game. For each question you get right 20 grains of rice will be donated to the UN World Food Program. Excellent! My plan is every time I let my children play with food, I'm going to visit the site and answer a whole bunch of questions. Feed my mind and feed the World. What a great idea! You can read more about FreeRice and their mission here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yoga With Kids

I'm new to Yoga. It's a whole new world for me and I love it. I practice some at home in the afternoons and sometimes the kids are around to watch. Well, wouldn't you know that the kids just joined right in? Kids are naturals at this stuff. Eli makes up his own yoga moves and gives them silly names, but oftentimes they are actual yoga moves.As soon as the kids started showing interest, I frantically started searching for "Yoga for Kids" books. I found a really great book and dvd combination called Yogakids. It's a Yoga Program for kids developed by Marsha Wenig, a certified yoga instructor.
What I like about the Yogakids book is that it gives parents step-by-step directions to each pose, tells you why it is important, and gives you silly information and other activities to try while doing the pose. It also gives you helpful hints on ways to help your child with the pose, some dos and don'ts and more information on helping your child use yoga during more trying times in their lives. For example, taking deep breaths when you are feeling anxious, thumping their chest when they are feeling sluggish, etc. And Ms. Wenig wants it to be fun and admits that it can get kind of crazy and out of hand and that that is perfectly ok.We checked out the dvds from the library and they follow the book, and have some interesting songs. Eli and Sadie both join along and try the poses that they feel comfortable with and Sadie sings "Namaste, namaste, namaste". Kids learn so fast too. I can tell Eli to get into Cobra, Down Dog, or Lion and he can do it without batting an eye, though his favorite pose is the pose of the child. I have to admit that that's my favorite too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A New Necklace

Every once in a while, a girl's gotta buy herself some jewelry. Funny thing is, I pretty much never wear jewelry, but I really wanted some kind of mommy necklace. So, I splurged and bought myself this necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs. She has many different pieces of jewelry to choose from but they are all hand-hammered and hand-stamped simple yet beautiful sterling silver pieces. I love my new necklace and I don't just admire it in the box, I actually wear it. Yea for jewelry. Yea for Lisa Leonard!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sadie's Birthday

Sadie's second birthday has come and gone. I tell you, it's tough being the second child. Do you remember Eli's big birthday party. Well, Sadie only had 3 friends along with their parents over for pizza and **ahem** store-bought cake. And you know what? It was the best birthday party I've ever thrown. I got to enjoy Sadie, her friends and their parents and I was not the least bit stressed out. It was great. I don't think Sadie minded too much either.This is Sadie's birthday crown made from a pattern found in Soulemama's book The Creative Family. This is the second time I've made this little crown. You can see Eli's here. Let's just say that I like the crowns more than the kids do. Maybe next year, it'll be a winner. Every two year old girl needs a tea set, right? Problem is that they are either porcelain which breaks too easily, tin which dents too easily or thin plastic which cracks too easily. So, I looked and looked to find a cute, solid plastic tea set and this is what I found. It's made by a company in California called Green Toys Inc. which makes all of their toys out of recycled milk jugs. Very cool. Plus, I found it on Ebay for half-price, so I got a really good deal on it. I made little sugar cubes with a little help from a friend. She cut out 1/2 inch cubes for me and I painted them white, then added a glitter glaze as the last coat so they're all sparkly like real sugar cubes. I also made the little tea bags out of felt and ribbon. I stuffed them with poly-fill that had a little essential oil on them so they smelled a little bit like real tea. I made a lemon tea bag, mint tea bag, cinnamon tea bag and a berry tea bag. (Though at this point they all smell the same...) And the good news is, after all of that, Sadie loved it. Yea!!