Sunday, March 31, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013 count the ways

...that I have been blessed.

For the record, I know that technically I have been blessed more ways that I can count.

But this week has been a bit challenging for me, and the weather has been so incredibly dreary, and...well, sometimes it takes a few tangibles as reminders....

Three different times I was reminded when a friend dropped off a special treat.

Aren't these 'Easter basket' cookies adorable?

Another friend knows my struggles with rice (That part about how I am t.e.r.r.i.b.l.e. at making it...) She is from Jamaica and has her own special way of making it.  Well out-of-the-blue she made me a batch of her special deliciousness!

And another friend knows just how much I LOVE her homemade, whole-wheat bread.  She has given me a loaf twice this week.

Little blessings that made a big difference.

Thank you friends.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 enjoy an ordinary


In preparation for Easter Sunday of course!

More egg-decorating.

When I was a little girl the little egg kits came with little dye-tablets.  Period.  End-of-story.

Now these kits come with paint, glitter, wax sticks, stickers, glue, sequins, beads, rubber bands for creating patterns, sponges to stamp on images, and yes...dye-tablets.

why yes...that is glitter all over my countertop 

paint, stickers, beads...
mmm...more glitter.

Are you admiring the glittered eggs? 
 I let the little girls paint the snow with the left over dyes.  Obviously they enjoyed this entire activity!

Silly girls.

Next year...

I can assure you the store is going to sell DYE-ONLY kits.

That's my story and I will stick to it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

to keep a straight face

...when #4 came down the stairs this evening (after she had been put to bed).

Our conversation went something like this...and since I was actually typing a report at the time of her descent down the stairs, I transcribed every word while she spoke....

A:  Mommy (each and every breath that comes out of this child's mouth begins with kidding.) Mommy, I am coming down the stairs because Mommy, I need to tell you something. 
Me:  What? 
A:  Mommy, I can't sleep.
My thought:  Who could wearing those discombobulated pajamas with a rainbow-in-my-room-night-light sticking out of them?
Me:  Well?  Why not?

A:  Mommy, well ah, Mommy...would you turn off one light so you can't see while you are I can sleep Mommy?

(Mind you her room is upstairs AND around the corner.  She can't see any lights that are on down here from her room.)

My thoughts:  Raising my eyebrows at her.
A:  (slightly changing her tactic)  Mommy, well, Mommy can you turn off the coffee light off so I can sleep? 
Me:  Yes. 
A:  And Mommy?  Mommy, what are we doing in the morning?
Me:  I thought you needed to tell me something. 
A:  Oh.  Right.  Mommy, When you go to sleep you can't leave on the fire.
(slightly annoyed)
Me:  OK.   
A:  And Mommy?  Mommy, I love you the most-te-dest.
Me:  Sweet sigh.  Melt my heart.  Fine you can stay up all night if you wish smile.  As long as you stop talking and preceding every phrase with Mommy because my poor ears need a rest.

Sunday, March 24, 2013 continue reading

...The Hobbit.

One of my favorite times each day is the time I set aside to read to Isabella and Will at night.  Obviously they both are big enough to read on their own.  Ever since I made it such a big part of our routine while Mark was deployed last year, it has been the constant that we maintain.

I can't believe I failed to mention (it was SUCH.A.HUGE.MILESTONE) that we finally finished the Harry Potter series about two weeks ago.  And even my big girl, who consequently has read each of the 7 books at least three times each, wanted to make sure to come in to listen while I read.

Annoyingly enough she would often correct my verbiage if I dared skip a phrase or transpose words.

We love watching the movies after we finish the books.

Isabella ALWAYS loves the books more than the movies.
William ALWAYS loves the movies more than the books.

It seemed a good transition to begin reading The Hobbit given that the movie recently was released into the theaters.

I received this 50th anniversary collector's edition, MANY years ago for Christmas.  And, while I am slightly ashamed to admit it, until a few days ago it had remained unread.

I wouldn't say we are loving it yet.  It is incredibly descriptive and verbose.  (Translation:  Tiresome to read aloud and boring to listen to.)  And the chapters are long.  Harry Potter long.

However, the pictures interspersed in this book are amazing.  The maps incredibly intricate.  And so far there is just enough action to keep the three of us looking forward to story-time each night.

And together time is what it is really all about anyhow.


Perhaps I should have sold this (#wasuntilfourdaysago) brand-new copy?  Apparently it is on Amazon for $130!  

Thursday, March 21, 2013 take my kids out

...for a special treat!?!

The big kids had a half-day at school today.

Mark has been gone for several days.

I thought we would celebrate.

Not Mark's absence (of course), but our cherubs' survival through the second week of his absence.

You see, in my experience of Mark's many comings and goings...the first few days go pretty well.  I get a few projects done, we get to eat kid friendly meals (code for I don't really have to cook), and I get to stay up super late.  This also means that our house is a little messier, the rules are a lot looser, and I always read a lot longer.

It's the second week that we begin to fall apart.  The kids are whinier, I am crankier (probably from lack of sleep see above), and we tend to run out of groceries.

You see:  In spite of the crazy hours that he works, Mark is our anchor.  Let's be honest, I plan the meals for him (as the only human in our house hold that does NOT turn his nose up at what I have made for supper). I keep the house tidy for him (for some reason he HATES stepping on Legos).  And I get more sleep when he is home (I am much more rational about the strange noises that I hear in the dark of night).

Is it all making sense why I felt like we should celebrate?

We tried the new ice-cream joint in town called Yo-Johnny.

I think this place is a child's dream.  

The child walks in.  
Grabs a super-size cup.
Fills it with frozen yogurt (about 15 different kinds are available).
Picks toppings (about 60 different kinds).

All by HIS/HERself.

Can you even imagine the mess that trailed behind my children after they did this said task?


Their concoctions:

Blech.  These don't even look the tiniest bit yummy to me.

The kids thought they were AWESOME!

I think the activity was a resounding success!

I see visits with the grandparents in their futures...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 celebrate the First

...Day of Spring

Not by busting out the flip flops, trimming the tulips, or opening up the windows...

Instead I am curled up by the fire (wearing an over-sized, extra-warm sweater), listening to the wind blow, and watching the snow fall.

I took this photo on the way into Watertown this morning.  The roads were terrible!

There is no justice in the was blizzard like conditions.  The wind was blowing so hard that the snow was blowing side-ways.

I even busted out yet another bag of snow-melt.  

The Groundhog gets a big giant FAIL.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 share what I have been reading

...and my taste's have been quite eclectic of late.

1.  I always am interested in health trends and articles.  This one caught my eye and makes some sense.  The gist is that the article talks about going back to how 'man' survived long ago via feast or famine.  There was plenty of food to eat or not enough and eating in this manner is supposed to trick your metabolism into burning fat stores.

It certainly is an article which provide food for thought (no pun intended).

Eating trends in England

2.  Of course articles about education (especially special education concerns) are always ones that grab my attention:

Standardized tests and children with special needs

3.  I always L.O.V.E. a good parenting (idea) article!

Parenting for the sports enthusiast

4.  And finally this has been one of my favorite articles of late.  I warn you it is long.  But it is ah-mazing.  It will make you really wonder how on earth we 'need' so many things.  I was so impressed by this article that I read it to Isabella and Will.  In its entirety.  Really.  I am certain it didn't make as much of an impression on them as it did me.  But my goal, was to give them a bit of perspective.  

40 years with no other human contact...a family's life in Siberia

Happy reading.

Monday, March 18, 2013 enjoy the early signs

...of Spring that we have seen?

wanted to see?  Wished we had seen?  Remembered from years before? hope to see soon?

I even changed up my decor a bit in honor of Spring's imminent arrival...

I believe I broke out the pastels a few days bit early.

The weather forecast for tonight?

Four special weather statements.

Wind Advisory.
Winter Storm Warning.
Special Weather Statement.
Lake Effect Storm Watch.


Oh!  My!

Are you kidding me?


Mark left early this morning for ten days in the field.

If I had to guess he has a few choice words to say himself about the weather forecast...

Thursday, March 14, 2013 finish the first

...of my four chairs.



It's definitely an amateur's work.  It's not too pretty sight underneath either.  I can only hope my product improves with each successive chair.  But I found the process rather relaxing and I am certainly pleased with the result.  This video was my guide.

Cost:  Rush and rushing specific supplies (should be enough for all four chairs) $75.
          New cable staple gun (cool tool to add to my stash): $30
Time spent: 1 hour on the phone with a friend, 2 hours watching a movie I had wanted to see.

Next up:  I need to pick out another movie to watch 'cause I have another chair to work on tomorrow night. host a St. Patrick's Day gathering

...with a 'green' theme for several ladies in the Brigade.

I enjoy the prospect of entertaining.  I love planning the menu, including some small details, and prepping my home for visitors.

While the menu was pretty simple, hosting this gathering with two other ladies really takes the pressure off of having to do everything myself.  Jolene and Jen provided beautiful trays of food that were absolutely delicious!

AND it would be unjust if I didn't mention all of the work on the small details that I had envisioned if I didn't credit our new nanny, Katherine (and her sister who spent time with her here at our home while she was working).  These two ladies did a great job helping me to check item after item off of my list.  They tied ribbons, folded food tags, prepped lime ice-cubes, sliced vegetables, and helped keep my little ones at bay throughout the entirety of the event.

Here are a few photos...

I wanted to take the time to take some better pictures.  Maybe ext time.

Green was obviously the theme.

Pretty green fruits:

kiwi, grapes, honeydew, and limes as garnish.

Crunchy green vegetables:

celery, snap peas, cucumbers, and broccoli 
A better picture of the buffet:

key-limes cupcakes sans lime curd

A close-up of the key lime cupcakes:

As I mentioned earlier, Katherine's sister came to 'work' with her these past few days (she is visiting from Texas).  She decorated these cupcakes and I loved the details she added.  Especially the twisted lime slices.

Thank you, Jasmine.

The drinks:

citrus mint cooler, water with lime ice cubes 
The potato bar:

Appropriate for our Irish theme!  The toppings included: slices of butter, sea salt, chili, cheddar cheese, chives, green onion, and bacon.  The potatoes were prepped and coated with Crisco and sea salt.  They were then wrapped in foil and baked for a really long time.  As you can imagine the reviews were excellent.

A few other festive green photos:

drink tags
the 'green' mantle 
the icebox

Not pictured:  No Irish gathering is such without a few libations.  I forgot to take a picture of the 'extras' area.  I set out bottles of water, white and red wine, and of course a bottle of Bailey's.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 finish a chair

...but alas, I have only just started.

I was hoping that I would have had at least one more chair available for the coffee (social event) that I am hosting tomorrow night.

Not gonna happen.

I think someone will have to sit on the floor.

Here is my project area:

I laid the beach towel down for two purposes:  Because the rush is soaked in water for a few minutes and is wet and to catch the stay staples that don't actually make it into the chair.

As you can tell I have gathered many tools for this projects as well.  Clamps, a cable staple gun, a wedge, a rush pin, and a funny shaped light-weight hammer.  

The first few strands of rush.

And a little more progress (after about an hour of work):

Things I know about rushing a chair now:

1.  It hurts my fingers.
2.  It makes my back sore (from bending over).
3.  It is a rather relaxing process.  (Great news!  I can use something calming in my evenings!)

Things I don't know:
1.  Will it be safe to sit in?
2.  Is it cost effective to do it myself?

Probably not on both accounts.  No matter.  It's relaxing (and I now have some cool new tools) and I'll just make to always offer this chair to Mark to sit in.

Monday, March 11, 2013 pull myself

...out of survival mode

I've been on a bit of a blogging hiatus.

Partly because Mark is gone.
Partly because Mark was getting ready to leave.

Mostly because I like to write my blog at night.  After the children go to bed.  The only time of day when it is quiet around here.  And this past week...I have been trying to get out of bed exceptionally early each day so I haven't had much alone time in the evenings.  Consequently, writing lost a few priority-top-of-the-list points these past few days.

Other reasons I haven't been writing include:

1.  #1.
2.  #2
3.  #3
4.  #4.
5.  #4.
6.  #4.
7.  I have been trying to catch up to Will in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Seriously, neither of us can put this book down!

But mostly because...

8.  My better half, the voice of reason, the guy who says, "Seriously you were going to do what tonight?" Has been gone for two days nows and it takes me a while to find my groove without him around.

(Sweet Sigh)

The kids are in bed.
The house is tidy.
I have lists made.
I have projects to tackle.
I have a gathering to host.

Tomorrow, things get back to normal.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

...catch up on all the

...Crow family activities of late

10.  The kids are all signed up for spring soccer and baseball and swimming.
9.  Mark's all packed up to head into the field.

Translation, beginning this weekend, Mommy is the sole mode of transportation for all said practice events.

8. The gathering I am hosting is in 6 days.  I have added three big projects to complete before that date.

Translation:  I have a few late nights in my very near future AND I am looking for someone brave enough to be the first person to sit in the chairs that I am going to re-rush (not sure if this is a real chair-fixing term or not?).  Takers?

7.  The sun is beginning to make a more regular appearance here in the north.
6.  The snow is beginning to melt.

Translation, the floors and van are covered with dirt, sand, and salt.  And the little girls take every possible opportunity to jump in each and EVERY puddle they see.  No matter if they are wearing rain boots or dress shoes....

5.  This is the month of Dr. Seuss' birthday.  And schools like to celebrate this occasion for the WHOLE ENTIRE month.
4.  Abbey gets DOUBLE points if Dr. Seuss books are read to her (each time a book is read to her...even if it has already been read to her.  It should be read again.  And again.).  The child that read this 'double points' detail to her needs to be caned!

Translation:  Reading One Fish Two Fish even just one more time is going to drive Mommy to drink.

3.  March is a very popular month for birthday parties.  The children will have attended five celebrations in ten days.

2.  Audrey and Abbey love to talk about their respective parties (you know the ones they are having in four and eight months!), the theme, the colors, the food, and most importantly who is invited and who is not.

Translation:  I have been uninvited to Audrey's birthday party at least six times this week.  Mark hasn't even made it onto the guest list yet.

and for the #1 item of the week....

1.  Audrey announced that she is never ever going to leave home.  She is going to live with us forever.  And Ever.

Translation:  None needed.  You can only imagine our elation at this news.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 squeeze key-limes

...for an incredibly l-o-n-g period of time.

How many key-limes does it take to make one cup of lime juice?  #toomanykeylimestocount

This is just half of the pile.

My fingers are sore from squeezing!

Last year for Will's First Communion I made him lemon cupcakes with a lemon curd filling.  They were light and delicious.  I knew that I wanted to make something similar for our St. Patrick's Day gathering but I wanted to keep with the 'green' theme.

I looked up several different recipes for key-lime cupcakes and since I couldn't find what I was looking for, I decided to create what I had in my mind.

The results were light and fluffy,

and delicious...

a simple cream cheese frosting
I made the cupcakes in these baking cups that I found on-line.  They were perfect!  There are many different festive colors to choose from, you can bake directly in them, and there is no greasy residue.

With every baking experience of mine, there is typically a piece that doesn't-really-go-so-well.  Although it was delicious, the filling turned out to be quite a disappointment.  To be frank, I am somewhat terrified of the color the curd turned out to be!  I think that the coloring was somehow affected in the boiling process...I used the same amount that I had in the cupcake batter.  The results are startlingly different!  

The jury is still out for me as to whether or not I am going to fill the rest of the cupcakes I made.  The kids are split, two liked the curd and two did not.  



Key-Lime Cupcakes


1c butter
1 1/3 c sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c sour cream
1/4c key-lime juice


1 3/4 c cake flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1T lime zest

Add food coloring; just a tad.

My batter was a bit too thick so I added about 1/4 c half/half.

Bake 350. 12-15 minutes.

The curd recipe is here.  I substituted key-lime juice for lemon.

Sunday, March 3, 2013 stop my mind from spinning

...Ahhh!  It won't stop.

Spring is around the corner.

Lent is in full-swing.  I am plugging along with my bag-o'-day.

Work is busy; just like I like it.

And I have a gathering I am getting ready to host here at my home.  And you know these events. really get me cracking on finishing up mini-projects like mantle arrangements, hanging pictures (and new mirrors), and setting out pretty fruit arrangements.

And that is just the beginning...those are the 'little things'.

Projects....projects....more projects to do.

I think Mark's hope would be that I work on this beauty that I picked up off of Craigslist a few weeks ago....

He is convinced I found it on the side of the road near a garbage bin.

Nope.  Not working on that yet.  #Toodamncoldoutsidestill

Instead, this is the next project I am going to tackle.

We bought this antique set when we lived down at West Point.  They were in pristine condition and then we...gasp....used them.  Yikes.

It didn't take very long for them to disintegrate into this condition.   I recently got around to getting an estimate as to what it would cost to repair them.


$110.  A piece.

These chairs are my newest crazy idea.  I can purchased the rush fiber for about $20.

Wish me luck.