Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas 2010 Review

Grace would open a gift and say, "oohhh look Mom...a box!

Oma's front door makeover

Grace's new Lady Bug Rain Boots or "Yady Bug" as she says...

Yes, most all of those gifts were for three little girls: my two and thier cousin Abby. Lucky girls!

My beautiful Grandmother opening her gift from us.

Matching PJ's from Oma

Terrible picture with Oma and's nearly impossible to get three preschoolers to look in the same direction at the same time!

"Christmas Morning" at home (actually happened on the 23rd) and yes, Mama is all about homeade. I made them a puppet stage out of an old vaccum cleaner box. It's pretty cool if I do say so myself!

Yes indeed, count them, we had FOUR seperate gift opening occasions. WOW!

We had a wonderful Christmas and my children were inundated with thoughtful gifts from family members. They loved all of the toys and surprises they got. I LOVED all of the new clothes they got! I appreciated that Grace isn’t so shabbily dressed in Isabelle’s hand me downs now. We are reaching the point where the sizes are in year increments and definitely more worn than the 3 or 6 month size increments. Isabelle always has new spiffy clothes, but poor Grace was always dressed in things just a little bit worn out or not quite as white as Isabelle’s. And they got some GREAT new books…among their favorites were two new Angelina Ballerina books (Grace calls her Anga Bina Rina), this Amazing Christmas Pop Up Book from Francesca Crespi, the Tale of Three Trees, and Legend of the Candy Cane. I love books and the kids do too!!

A highlight for Conrad and I was an electric blanket (it’s the little things, really), a carpet cleaner, and a family membership to COSI, which we took our first trip already!

We had so much good stuff we actually had to put he seat down in the back of the van to fit it all in!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bento Thursday

I have been rolling on the bento-ing lately! I'm not sure what's up with me, but I have been inspired by Christmas to create...

In the top box you have star pizza's. I cut out flat bread with a cookie cutter, slathered on a spoonful of marinara, a pepperoni, and a small sprinkle of cheese, broiled it for a minute or two and tucked it in the box. In the bottom box you have cucumber hearts and flowers, berry skewers, and a christmas cookie.

This picture is terrible, BUT, we had homeade sweet and sour chicken the night before for dinner, so the girls got sweet and sour chicken topped with star and heart rice balls for lunch. The bottom box has pomegranat seeds, half of a cheese stick, some greapes, and a small container of marshmellows for a treat.

And I know it's no bento, but as a bonus I thought I'd add this Chocolate Raspberry Cake my Grandma baked and I assembled. Doesn't it look yummy?? Oh it was!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rudolph Ranch

I read on Facebook that there was a reindeer farm near where my parents live. I think their actual livelihood was a Christmas Tree farm, but they also had a gift shop, story telling, and a small herd of reindeer you could go see while you pick out your tree.

I called to see if they were going to be open Christmas Eve for a visit since my sister and her family, along with us would be at my parent’s for Christmas that day. They said they weren’t open, but would open up for us for a small fee. We decided to go and the trip did not disappoint.

When we got there, the owner drove us out to the “reindeer house” and sliced up a few apples. He actually let us get inside the pen with the reindeer and pet them and feed them! The kids had a blast and the owner was a wealth of information about the animals.

Did you know that reindeer are native only to Northern Europe, and they have no front teeth (so they couldn’t bite the kids when they fed them), they eat a diet so high in copper that it would kill most other animals (Purina makes special “Reindeer Chow” for reindeer herds, and there are no “wild” reindeer anywhere left in the world, all reindeer are owned by someone. Also reindeer grow a new rack of antlers every year and loose them every year. They are the fasted growing antlers in the world. The owner said for a season every day he comes out they look different because the antlers grow so fast. So there are your reindeer facts for the day 

So, if you get a chance, make sure you take time to visit the reindeer farm in Northern Ohio. We had a blast!

Hand Made Christmas: Wreath Tutorial

For Christmas, one of the gifts we made my mom was a “Front Door Make Over.” She had been mulling over painting her front door and had mentioned wanting a vinyl like this for her front door. So for Christmas, I wrapped up an old half used repurposed can of red outdoor paint, I also got her the vinyl that said, “Bless this House and All Who Enter.” I then bought an inexpensive outdoor rug at Wal-mart and monogrammed it with a big “P” by using a plate to make the circle, then widening the line with black fabric paint. I then free handed the big P. It turned out rather good, I think.

Lastly I made a wreath that rocks! I loved it and thought I’d share it with you. I bought five or six different kinds of material in small squares...I actually bought quilting squares. I bought the colors in red, green, and brown for Christmas.

I also bought little brads to go in the center and a large grape vine wreath. I then took three different size measuring cups and begin tracing circles and cutting them out. I then layered them up and put the brad through the middle.

I finished it off by simply hot gluing them to the wreath. Simple and fun to do! It actually only took me a couple of hours while I was watching Television one night! I think she liked it…

P.S. I need to give credit where credit is due. Like most of my "crafts" I'm stealing my ideas from others...this is where I got the idea for this awesome wreath!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Little Potty Dance

I am super impressed (and super excited!) with our little one’s potty skills, at this point. She has pretty much been sitting on the potty (or around the general potty area) almost every day. She has even been peeing in it at least once a day! Isabelle always responded to treats and rewards for pottying. Grace, on the other hand, is pretty excited with the verbal affirmation. Clapping, cheering, and dancing with her goes a long way for Grace! I’m already starting to see those love languages emerge!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cookie Factory

We have made cookies and make cookies, had friends over and made cookies some more! My kids love to decorate them and I have discovered that it’s far better if I make the actual cookies before hand and just let them decorate as I frost. By the way, if you eat our cookies: Beware! About 20% were coughed on by Grace! Poor thing just couldn’t stop coughing (or turn her head!!)

We even spent a Saturday at the cooking school at the North Market decorating cookies made by Mozart Bakery…yum!

Even our friends Andrew and Aaron came to spend the evening. We had pizza, watched Polar Express, and decorated and ate cookies. There may or may not have been some kissing involved, but I can’t confirm that. Aaron and Grace are one day apart in age and they were all in daycare together for quite a while. Grace calls Aaron “My Aaron” and they cuddled up on the floor together to watch movies.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bento Thursday

As I’ve mentioned before, my kids eat the same things over and over again. I’ve tried to vary their diets, but it just doesn’t work. At this stage in the game, they just aren’t going with it. I was always down on parents who I saw do this in the past. (Consider this an official apology, if I was down on YOU!) Because now I get it. You really do have to pick your battles as a parent and eventually something’s gotta give, and this is one we have chosen to let go. So what if carrots, corn, and occasionally celery and cucumbers are the sole vegetables my kids will eat! I’m hoping they will survive!

BUT, I digress. I’ve discovered that I can present the SAME turkey sandwich in many different ways! AND, I’ve also discovered that Isabelle (who is four years old) will eat a lot more if she helps me bento her lunch. What do you think?

In the top bento are blackberries and carrots. In the small container is some veggie dip. In the bottom you have a turkey sandwich, with cheese beard,fruit lether hat, and chocolate chip eyes. The scraps from the sandwich and fruit roll up are also in there. win some you lose some. This was supposed to be rudolph, but it looks more like a skull and cross bones. Oh well, the kids helped me make this one and LOVED it. Apples and a cookie are in the bottom box.
Also, my kids will eat more of the food at home if I make it fun…so occasionally I’ve started “bento-ing” their dinners or breakfasts.
Blueberry heart Pancake Blueberry Gingerbread man Pancake
Sloppy Joe Snowman with cucumber "snowflakes", chocolate chip eyes, carrot nose and arms, and craisin buttons

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where Have We Been?

My, it feels like I haven’t blogged in ages. I has been a while. But I have good excuses…colds, fevers, gift buying, gift wrapping, tea parties, cookie making, gift making, Christmas programs, potty training, bento-ing…and I want to share it all with you! But maybe not all today… Since, some of the gifts are distributed, I’ll start by sharing a gift I made for some friends and co-workers. We have gotten good feedback on Indian style tea that we often make at home…chai. It’s creamy and spicy and all kinds of goodness! So I decided to get some black tea and grind and mix my own spices (like we do at home) to make Masala Chai and package it to give to friends. I was really happy the way it turned out! I hope my friends enjoy it! At the beginning of the month, we also had Isabelle and Graces Christmas play. It was Grace’s first “performance” and she was a natural! They girls looked so cute in their Christmas outfits and all of my side of the family graciously traveled two hours to see their little 30 minute performance!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Still breathing...

We are still breathing here in the Michael house. Maybe like some of you we have been fast and furiously getting ready for Christmas, while fighting off all of those fun winter viruses, and plowing through multiple feet of snow! But...I just wanted to let you know, we are alive! Stay tuned!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Favorite Things Friday

Our schedules have been a bit hectic, as I'm sure most of yours are around Christmas. We put up our tree...which the kids were SO excited about they could hardly contain themselves while we assembled the tree...yes we have a fake tree. You can keep your beautiful real pines with needles all over the place and big price tags. And since I've become (a little) Green, I find it a little sad to see all of those lovely (yet dead!)trees out by the curb the first week in January. I know I know, call me a tree hugger. I can't think of a more appropriate title at a more appropriate time, actually!

Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed our Thanksgiving and our visit with family, although I didn't get many pictures on that day. But let me get to my favorite thing for today, before I get off on another trail...well, maybe one more trail...

About a year ago, I stopped by an Orchard in Yellowsprings. I bought a gallon of cider. I just happened to be really thirsty, so when I got into the car, I opened it up and tasted it. THE BEST cider I have ever tasted. I looked at the label only to see a "WARNING: UNPASTURIZED" label on it. Really, it was like I was drinking liquid apples. Almost like I could taste what KIND of apple they made the cider from. I immediately went in to buy a couple more gallons.

I haven't been able to make it back to that farm but I have been on the hunt for someplace that would let me buy unpasturized cider from them. My mom got wind of thier local orchard that would sell it to you, if you sign a release form..I know, weird, right? So she ordered it and I picked it up. It was lovely! And Yes, I gave it to my me an unfit mother if you want, but yum. I couldn't have them miss out on this little Fall Treat. So the moral of my story? If you get a chance: Try it! You won't regret it!