"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween kids in the kitchen

(My Meow and her Meow Cookies)

This is not the healthiest of food choice weeks, but it's one we wait all year for.  Seriously.  

A few years back, I got sideswiped by begging kids at the grocery store and caved, buying a couple of those little Pillsbury ... Bisquick ... Betty Crocker ... whatever, recipe booklets that sit at the check out.  

We have used them to death.  Seriously.

I wanted to give credit to them by putting a picture of their worn nature here, but Celia took them to high school to peruse with her friends over lunch yesterday, as they plan for a Halloween shin-dig they are throwing here on Friday night.

I stressed a little when I found out that one of her friends asked to take them home to earmark what they will make for their party.

I looked Celia in the eye and sternly emphasized that we need to get those back because they are our favorite cookbooks.

She laughed and I laughed and then I put on my straight face and said, "Seriously".  Then she laughed with her friends and told them her mother had gone Halloween recipe crazed and needed them back, giving them her most serious face on my behalf.

Because, we are serious about dinner this time of year.  The kids and I have fun and Newel is an accommodating dad because he doesn't get to eat eyeballs and fingers all that often, really.

Homemade Meatballs and Spaghetti

National Hebrew Giant's Fingers.
(In sliced and inverted pretzel buns)

Owl cookies made from Pillsbury pre-made pizza crust. Slice, unroll the tips, fit two together with pretzel gold fish for nose, sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar, bake and place kisses for eyes. (I feel I must explain because Newel sauntered into the kitchen 
exclaiming "Oh, Snails!" and offended the cook).

Guacamole monster burgers ... 'nuff said.

Cemetery baked potato casserole.
Bake potatoes, slice a few length wise, cube the rest and fry for a minute in a pan with butter and season salt.  Put in a casserole dish and top with favorite chopped baked potato toppings.  We use onion, corn, bacon, tomato, cheese and bell pepper.  Write on the "tomb stone" potatoes with a little sour cream/ketchup mix in a plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped.  Stick 'em in the ground and serve with sour cream.

And just because it's sort of food related and I have nowhere else to stick these ... we got this Yugoslavian Finger Squash in our farming vegetable co-op box last week.  It looks like it'd be miserable to peel and cook but ... after great dinners of fingers and eyeballs, it makes for a darn good massage.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Of missed wunkin carving

Dear Newel,

We want you to know how much we appreciate you and all that you do.  You work so hard for us and sometimes that work takes you away and makes you miss things that we know you love.  

Last night around the table, Celia and Christian laughed all over again about their big kids date with us to the haunted house on Saturday night.  How you ducked under each spot where you were certain some ghostly actor would reach out and grab you. How you pushed them out in front of you. How you ran for the exit once you heard the chainsaw and kept on running, leaping over the barricade in the parking lot, not stopping until you reached the car.

The little kids marveled that you still love to gather us to watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."  The big ones made the other's jealous that they got to stay up late and watch "The Creature From the Black Lagoon" with you.

I love that you are such a big kid inside and that you make such experiences fun for them.

I enjoyed hanging on the phone with you last night as the kids carved — as Eliza says, "Wunkins" -- for family home evening.  I know it's one of your favorite activities and talking with you while working with them, was almost like doing it together.

And since you couldn't actually see the action, I photographed it for you so you could feel a part of us.  I know that all of this magic happens because you are off working hard for our family. We are so grateful for that.

We love you and miss you.  Without you, the fun just isn't the same.

All my love,

P.S All are volleying for one of us to declare a first place above the others.  Beware ... it's a trap :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kids in the kitchen

Grandma laughs, tongue in cheek, about the time that Christian stayed with them and came in the kitchen declaring, "Not a yucky dinner again!"

Getting kids to eat can be really tricky business when they are little.  Not so much as they grow up ... at least for teenage boys.  Then the question is how to keep them from eating you into a second mortgage.

When my oldest ones were little I tried to jazz things up a bit.

We had a Costco night and I put everything on their plate with a toothpick and had them eat with plastic sandwich baggies on their hands.

I bought plastic compartmental trays like a lunch room and that was fun for a while.

Growing our own vegetable garden was really exciting ... even in pots on the porch back in our apartment days.

Any trick that would work.  In truth, I really didn't care if they ate or not.  In our day — I say that like we're old fogies ...  if you didn't eat, you just went hungry and that was that. 

But, dinner avoidance produced hungry hypoglycemic kids, vomiting in the morning which really wasn't my thing.

And, tearful "You will sit here until you eat everything on your plate" just wasn't either.

Iphone pic ... Eliza trying to suck a dinner night out through a chopstick straw.

But getting kids involved, has turned the tables (I love a well placed pun).

When each child took turns with responsibility for producing a healthy dinner they loved, it really hurt to hear the others say ... "Ew, yuck."  Pointing out the effort made, and knowing your turn was coming and everyone might not like the end result, really produced a change.

And I think folks started to realize how a mom feels when she's worked to present a meal to the accolades of "Gross!".  And they certainly learned to appreciate the hard work involved.

Friday night pizzas and Annie's home economics skills put to work.  She's an expert at chips and salsa.

And these kids sure love a turn in the kitchen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who are you wearing?

I've been frustrated lately with how shabby my teens have been dressing.  I admit, I'm not a good back to school clothing shopper.  New clothing isn't really a necessity until the weather turns in October, anyway.

Then I stepped into the middle and high school ... and every child looks like they crawled out from under a rock.

So, I caved and took my teens shopping for a nice thing or two.

I walked into a store of their choosing at the outlet malls ... and everything on the rack looked like it had been run over by a truck ... more than once.

Now, I'm no fashionista.  We only got new shoes and blue jeans when we desperately needed them growing up.  Once in a while a box would come in the mail full of hand-me-downs from a cousin and we'd rip that sucker apart like hungry animals baring our teeth in challenge to any who might think of laying claim to what was now rightfully possessed.

But ...

Today's teen fashion seems to have a Salvation Army style to it.

And I said as much.

And I left the store.

And I drove on over to the Salvation Army with really irritated teens.

And then, my "hand-me-down" ways kicked into high gear.

And though my teens looked at me in disgust ... because lets face it ... we'd rather wear a $40.00 shirt that looks like it got run over by truck than one that actually DID ...

I had the greatest time ever.

I found this sweater for $2.00 ... and after feeling incredibly stupid taking pictures of my self ...     

I decided to hang them instead so you could see this perfect condition angora cardigan sweater for $3.00

These super soft pants I adore and seem never before worn for $5.00.

This cute blouse for $3.00.

And this one for $2.00

And vintage jacket I fell in love with for $10.00.  It takes a seamstress to know that it is quality made and who wouldn't adore that real leather binding?  It's fitted perfectly and I'm pairing it with a brown skirt and boots this fall.

Annie was playing with the camera and happened to snag me wearing these.  Anne Taylor shirt $1.50 and wide leg white pants for $2.00.

And the coup de grace.  This Calvin Klein dress with the tags still on in exactly my size which I bought for $7.00.  It was as though it was sitting there just waiting for me.  Not really being a sleeveless gal myself, I was excited to find a short cardigan on the clearance rack at Target for a few bucks that paired up beautifully. 

And so ... though my kids looked at me like they should hug me with rubber gloves and raincoat on ... and who are they to talk anyway with their fashionably ripped up jeans??  I felt like I'd had a winner of a day and for only $35.

I guess you can take the girl out of the hand-me-downs but you can never really take the hand-me-downs out of the girl.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Master Bedroom Makeover

I have been up to something ... besides napping and reading and wearing snowman pj's.

And ...I don't like these guys anymore:

They make me want to change everything about my home.  Every.  Single.  Season.

And I love every issue.  And I hate changing what I just did.  And so I love to hate them.

** sigh**

And then I redo.  But this time, for the last time!  Until that next catalog comes, anyway.

I started with good intentions of warming up this high vaulted space.  

The "peanut butter chocolate" combo — as Christian called it — only succeeded in making the room more cavelike.  Like a cave, you'd want to hide in to eat peanut butter and chocolate, so no one could see you.

Treed in as our house is, it was turning out to be too dark of a look.

So, recently I started over ... darn that Pottery Barn.

New coat of bright white, some pillows from Target.  New duvet, curtains, and couch from our just opened Ikea ( **love**), and a rearrangement of some previously owned accessories.

It's a whole new room.

A room I'd like to sit in all day and openly eat vanilla ice cream and read catalogs that I love to hate.

Monday, October 17, 2011


We are into fall break.  I've never been so ready for a break.  And yet, I cannot believe it's fall break already. 

We were just doing this:

And this:

And because I'm wanting to hang out with my kids in my pj's all day today while it rains and rains and they make a haunted house in the basement with the smells of banana bread swirling ... I'm just sticking a bunch of randomly recent memories right here.

Like a girl's overnighter with my besties:

And the discovery of the germmobile I've tried to keep secret as long as possible:

And the constant defilement of my inspirational chalkboard, thank you Newel:


And babies watching babies:

See?  Totally random.  And now I'm off to wash a random collection of dishes.