Monday, February 27, 2012

Made it Myself Monday-- Window Seat

I finally finished my February project!  It didn't help that I waited until the last week of the month and the week my children had their tonsil removed.  Anyhow, my mom was a big help with the kids while I struggled (and I do mean struggled) through this job.

I have this crazy little window seat in the house we rent.  It desperately needed a little cushion.  Since this house is temporary, I didn't want to spend a few hundred to have something made and I also knew that I could probably knock something out myself.  My biggest problem, as always, was committing to fabric.

So, this past week, I finally settled on a simple piece of flax colored Irish linen, trimmed in brown piping with some trim detail on the top.  I thought about putting a monogram on the top, but alas, decided to save myself the time energy.  Afterall, I will leave not take this cushion when we move.

Here is the final product...note, I haven't touched it up with an iron yet:


Here is what I learned:
  1. Because the shape isn't symmetrical, I can't flip the pillow.  So, I could have saved myself on fabric and done the bottom in a cotton duck or something else.
  2. Once I inserted the pillow, I had to finish the rest of the pillow with a basic seam stitch.  Because I didn't plan properly, this seam was on the top front...oops
  3. Linen has a lot of "give" and makes pattern cutting a challenge.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent for kids

The Jelly Bean Jar

We began this tradition in our house when the kids were younger.  Our church sent the instructions in one of their bulletines and we felt like it was a great way to acknowledge lent with young children.  At the time, our kids were 2, 4, and 6... and asking them to give up something for 40 days felt like a long time.


Here is how it works:

On Ash Wednesday give each child a jar with a small copy of the jellybean prayer taped to it. Determined a behavior to go with each jellybean color (corresponding with the prayer). Each day the kids can earn a jellybean of any color they followed through on.  They can not eat the jellybeans until Easter. The kids can not earn white jellybeans,  these represented the Grace of Christ, which is a gift not earned ourselves.  On Easter morning, the kids wake to find their jars filled up where they were still empty (lacking) with white jellybeans (Christ's grace).

The Jelly Bean Prayer:
Red is for the blood He gave,
Green is for the palm's cool shade,
Yellow is for God's light so bright,
Orange is for prayers at twilight.
Blue is for sweet rest at night,
White is for the grace of Christ.
Purple is His days of sorrow,
Pink is for each new tomorrow.
A jar full of jelly beans,
Colorful and sweet,
Is a Prayer...is a Promise... Is an Easter treat!

You can decide how each color jelly bean can be earned, but here is a suggested list to get you started.

RED is earned by sacrificing something for the sake of someone else, like Jesus gave his blood for us. It is important to focus on sacrificing for someone else and not on sacrifice for it's own sake.

GREEN is earned through good deeds; it was a good deed to provide shade for Jesus with the palm branches.

YELLOW is earned for sharing God's light through kindness to others.

ORANGE is earned for attentive behavior during bedtime prayer time and night time bible story.

BLUE is earned for going to bed on time  without complaining .

WHITE cannot be earned and are used to fill the jar on Easter morning.

PURPLE is earned through apologizing to anyone hurt with words or deeds that day.

PINK is earned by forgiving those who have apologized to  for hurtful behavior.

*this version I belive came from catholicmom.com, but different versions can be found all over the web,

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tonsil Free!


On Friday morning, The entire family headed up to Yale/ New Haven to have the kid's tonsils removed.  After being diagnosed with different degrees of sleep apnea last year, this was the suggested course of action for all three kids.

The kids were scheduled from youngest to oldest.  The child life specialist showed each child what to expect during the surgery and later, she brought special toys for the kids to play with until they were called.  Each surgery was scheduled for an hour, but only took about 20 minutes.  They outfitted me in scrubs and I escorted each child into the surgery room.  It wasn't until I walked from the waiting room to the surgery room, that I tuned into my emotions and realized just how tense I was.  I stayed with each child while they put them under, and then left for the actual surgery.  As each surgery was finished, Dr. Baum gave us a synopsis of what he found.

Baby J had moderately large tonsils and a large adenoid.  He had a little irritation in his lower respiratory area which is probably due to upper respiratory issues (drippy tonsils/adenoids).  As for his asthma, Dr. Baum felt as though this may clear up on its own now that adenoids and tonsils were removed.

Chomper almost lost his top two teeth during the surgery...they are extremely wiggly!  Dr. Baum said his tonsils and adenoids were big and yucky.  So, we are happy to have those gone  He too had a broncoscopy and had a small amount of irritation in his lower respiratory area. 


The Peachette also had drippy, yucky tonsils and adenoids. Surprisingly, she had the largest tonsils of any of the three.  He said that it appeared as though she had gone through a stage where she had chronic cold symptoms.  It is so interesting what they can find.


Around 4:30, we were discharged.  The kids each picked a toy from the toy cart...the boys getting lego ninjago toys and KF picking a cranium sudoku (an easy pick when she found out it was popularized in Japan). 







Now, comes the recovery-- 7 days +/-.  This will be the toughest part...especially since we have three kids needing help at the same time.  Big Faye is here to help nurse...and she has proven to be great at cuddling the littles. My fingers are crossed that all goes well and we are set to go back to school on thw 27th!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Homemade Valentines

Valentines day at school is always a favorite of mine.  I love for the kids to get crafty and make their own valentines.  This year we scoured the internet for ideas.  We were all set, when I got a wrench thrown into our plans.  Our school decided to not allow treats or food of any sort.  On the fly, we were able to come up with some good alternatives...here they are...

Baby J, the only one not affected by the mandate (because he is still in preschool), made this adorable fish valentine.

Chomps, took all of his friends one of these cute matchbox car valentines.  He was so specific about which friend got which car.

The Peachette picked out a some valentines that could be colored in and gave them with a pack of crayons and a home made bookmark.


As I wait for them to get home...I have my own treats waiting for them.  How cute are these balloon pets?  My kids are going to LOVE them.  Along with these, I got them each a much needed water bottle and one a small pail of candy and tchotchkes.


How -Tuesday: Coeur de Creme

Happy Valentines Day

Todays how-to is a good and easy one-- Couer de Creme.  I make this desert every year.  The ingredients are simple, there is no baking, you can make it in advance and it looks impressive.  Girl, that is my type of recipe!  Here is what you need to do:


Coeur de Creme:
 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce, recipe follows
2 half-pints fresh raspberries


Place the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer off, add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and vanilla bean paste.  Start the mixer on low until ingredients are incorporated.  Bring the mixer up to high speed and beat until the mixture is very thick, like whipped cream.

Line a 7-inch coeur a la creme dish with fine cheesecloth so the ends drape over the sides and suspend it over a bowl, making sure that there is space between the bottom of the dish and the bottom of the bowl for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate overnight.


To serve, discard the liquid, unmold the cream onto a plate, and drizzle Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce around the base. Serve with raspberries and extra sauce.


raspberry sauce:


1/2 of a  half-pint fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur


Place raspberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and orange liqueur into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.



There is only one hitch, this dish requires a special piece of equipment.  A Coeur a la Creme dish.  These come in different sizes and cost $3-10.    But once you have it, you can reuse yearly and it is great for other mold-able dishes!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Two down-- Eighteen to go


My husband pulled another one of Chomp's teeth today.  When it rains it pours!  Looks like the two top teeth are getting wiggly as well.

On the topic of teeth, our pediatrician told me something that I had never heard.  She said that teeth are directly correlated with puberty.  So, the later children lose their teeth, the later they will go through puberty.  Thank god...Trey is the last in his class to lose his first tooth.

Baby J turns 5


4 Months
4 years old
Yesterday, my Youngest turned 5 years old and what a year it has been.  J is my most excitable child.  He giggles at the drop of a hat, he loves to play, and he has got a great sense of humor.  Being last on the line, he is definitely a mama's baby...probably because he spends so much time with me. 

Here was his responses to this years questions:
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Toy: Rescue Heros
Favorite Fruit: Watermelon
Favorite TV show: "scrungebob" Squarepants
Favorite Lunch: Banana Bread
Favorite Game: Checkers
Favorite animal: Tiger
Favorite Song: Yellow backed fly (Steve Martin)
Best Friend: Lane
Favorite Breakfast: Cereal/ Luckies and Froot loops
Favorite thing to do outside: swing on the rope swing with daddy pushing
Favorite drink: Coke
Favorite Holiday: today...then Christmas because santa
Favorite Luvie: Mr. Cole Bear
What do you want to be when you grow up: A Spy
What do you want for birthday dinner: Cereal
One Month with the peachette and chomps
One Year

Easter 2009
Preschool chapel-- saying his prayers
Christmas 2011
Vineyard 2011

Learning to swim at 4411


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cheers



Many of you have asked about the British Flag on my e-mail signature this month.  Well, it's in memory of my Dad who passed away February 11, 2009.

My dad came to the US as an aeronautical engineer in the 60's.  He lived in Montclair, NJ and loved to come into the city and listen to the big bands of that era...a favorite being the smooth sounds of Dave Brubeck and Peggy Lee.  When he took a job in Atlanta with Lockheed, he met my Southern mother who had her eye on him.  Their tale would include a return to England, through Bermuda and the birth of two children in two different countries.  Atlanta became their permanent home in 1972-- their first house belonging to Dick Van Dyke.  






On 9/11, my dad was one of the only people that understood the potential threats and fright that we felt.  During WWII, his own parents, who lived in Portsmouth shipped him to his aunt in the Lake Region of England.  He said his mother (who stayed in Portsmouth) would go to sleep in her bed on one side of the bedroom and would wake on the other side of the room due to the bombing.  She went gray in a matter of weeks from the stress.  When she came to get him, he didn't even recognize her-- she had to prod him with candy.  

Years later, my Dad LOVED his trips up to NYC to visit.  Visits always included steaks at Sparks, at least one night of Italian at Carmines, and cream tea at Tea and Sympathy.  Cream puffs and eclairs from his favorite French bakery in the village were always waiting his arrival and nightly cocktails and jazz were a requirement as his favorite, Bemelman's Bar at the Carlyle.  Before he left, we all weighed a stone more and we were all pickled from the cocktails.  I have a fond memory of an early morning stroll to Agata and Valentina where we stared wide eyed as they cut a huge mille feuille into slices-- we were sure the cream was going to come oozing out the sides (it didn't)-- of course, we had to take about 4 slices home to tell the story properly.  Maybe it was our doing, but when he came to NYC he was on top of the world and frankly everyone treated him as such.  My doormen loved him, my girlfriends all wanted to hit the town with us, and he was always telling a joke to someone.

After ten years in NYC, our family of 3 moved back to Atlanta to launch Connexiti, and I believe it was divine intervention.  We had 4 1/2  years with my Dad.  He loved his grandchildren more than I can explain-- he could be found on the floor urging them to crawl, giving them a cuddle, sneaking them sweets, and bouncing them on his knee.  He was there for each of their births.  I will always be thankful for that time.
The Peachette and Granchier in 2007

Chomps and Granchier at his 70th birthday
Baby J and Granchier in 2007

Tonight, we'll think about my dad and toast him with his signature cocktail... a Manhattan.

Cheers Dad!

Church Dinner


Our town, Darien, is an affluent area in what is described as the Gold Coast of Connecticut. So, for this reason, we find it important for our kids to understand that Darien isn't exactly exactly how most people in our country live.  As a family, we try and take opportunities to give back to the community.

Each week our church prepares and serves a dinner on Thursday night.  Parishioners and Community members come together to share a meal.   This past week, our family helped to serve this dinner at our church and frankly, we loved it.  The peachette loved the responsibility and continues to ask if we can do it again.

Chomper and Baby J helped by running requests to the kitchen, but they spent most of their time playing with all the other kids.  When dinner was almost over, an older (80ish) woman named Nidia came to the serving table and asked whose child was wearing a black beret.  I reluctantly said yes as she called me over to the side.  I was expecting the worst.

The lady was very kind.  She proceeded to tell me that Chomper was a very special boy.  She told me he was going to be very important one day and that he would do great things.  She had already pulled him to the side and had a conversation with him.  She told him that everyday he was to say a prayer for his teacher as he walked into his classroom.  And everyday when he left his classroom, he was to say another prayer for his teacher.  According to Nidia, if he did these things, God would watch over him.

As I listened, I actually got a tear in my eye.  She had no idea how this conversation was impacting me.  Chompers, who is quite possible my most emotional and sweet  child, also has my gift of gab.  After a conversation (of two..maybe three) with his teacher, we have had to work on when is the "right" time to talk.  And according to his gym teacher, when the kids sit in the "circle of silence" (which is when they choose someone to sit with that they are not tempted to talk with), chomps has a hard time-- there really isn't anyone he doesn't want to talk with.  I guess this conversation made me realize that everything is going to be alright.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How -Tuesday: Cinnamon Banana Bread

Why did I never think to put this combination together-- cinnamon and banana?  I made this variation on Banana Bread yesterday and it was fantastic.  In fact, the hubs said it was the best banana bread he had ever had.  The loaf is moist and dense, but has a little crunch from the cinnamon/ sugar topping.  The recipe is from Lovin' from the oven.  If your so inclined, here is the recipe:

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread
For the bread:
  • 3 over-ripe bananas, smashed up
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
For the swirl:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a loaf pan. Mine was 9 x 5, but you could use any sort, I suppose. Just keep a close eye on it in the oven, and adjust the time as needed
  2. Mix bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together. sprinkle baking soda and salt around on top of the banana mixture. Then gently stir in flour. Be careful not to over-mix!
  3. In a small dish, mix together the 1/3 cup sugar and 1 Tbs cinnamon.
  4. Add 1/2 of the batter to the loaf pan and then sprinkle half, or a little more than half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture all over the batter in the pan. Add the rest of the batter, and then sprinkle the leftover cinnamon-sugar on top.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, but remember, if you’re using a different-sized loaf pan, be careful and keep a close eyeball on it!

Here are my trusty tools:
  
Always check the accuracy of your oven.  Mine is about 15 degrees off!

Kitchen aid!  Need I say more?


These are the best pans for breads.  $12-15 each, but worth every penny.  Cooks.com carries them...USA pans


Good vanilla is essential.  I have actually made my own...but this is better and cheaper than my own!



    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    I found Palmetto Cheese, Y'all!



    I was at the grocery picking up the makings for today's Superbowl Reuben dip.  I was in search of melba toast in the specialty cheese section of Stop and Shop (at the Goodwives Shopping Center) when I got a trip down memory lane.  I came across Palmetto Cheese.  Palmetto Cheese is pimento cheese made in the low country of South Carolina and it is delicious.  I had actually debated making this southern caviar for today, but opted for the reuben dip since it seemed so appropriate.

    Since moving to Connecticut, I have been able to get my hands on decent BBQ, grits, fried chicken, and pork rinds.  But up to this point, pimento cheese has been off the radar.

    Pimento cheese (pronounce pah-minnow or pah-minta cheese) is essentially shredded sharp cheddar, chopped pimentos, Dukes mayonnaise, and a little garlic.  There are all sorts of variations including bacon, jalepeno, pecan, and many many more.  Southerners eat it on their sandwiches, they use it as a spread, they put it on their burgers.  It's basically a southern condiment.

    If you live in the area and want to try a Southern Novelty, this is a treat or you can order it online  at http://pimentocheese.com

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