Saturday, October 28, 2006

some of this years christmas toy pics

As a mom, teacher, and child life sepcialist, I love picking Christmas toys- seriously love~(In case you missed my master toy list here it is) I love to peruse great museum gift shops and find the coolest and most creative toys. I look for stuff that is authentic, open ended, and generally doesn't make noise or require batteries. Throughout the year I acquire them and stash them in the upstairs closet. I can post them on my blog because although smart son reads- he has yet to become one of my loyal blog followers, so have no fear Christmas will still be a surprise. Also smart son's birthday is only a few days before Christmas so lest you think me extravagant (I actually keep to a very strict tight budget)- December is the only time in which our toy closet really grows!

some of my tentative pics this year- for smart son 5 and smart baby 17 mo.
more historical action figures to add to our collection (I love my freud, ben franklin, jane austen, einstein and you wouldn't believe the hilarious play they yield)the fandex series of field guides (there are all sorts butterflies, trees, old testament, presidents way cool info for brainy type kids)
some safari ltd. tubes - the galapagos island animals, ancient egypt, monkeys and apes, wild west(life just would be complete with out some mini pioneers to celebrate your heriatge with) and a great butterfly collector case Identiflyer, folkmanis toy puppet some great specimen blocks , the plan toys airport (i totally dig the ferry and garage we got those last year)
a globe, playmobils (okay brief discourse on the virtues of playmobils- they are well constructed, generally gender neutral, durable, classic and I love how they represent real life things- we have a giant bin full... the playmobil house sets, OR doctor suite, you name it-- they have everything from laundry rooms to house painters, my kids love them and begin playing with them before they are even 18 mo. (yes disclaimer beware of chocking hazards- supervised play only!) not only are they fun but I have used them to act out events and they have helped in preparing my kids for everything from sleeping in a big bed to going to the doctors (yes so classic child life specialist), when I was pregnant and Smart son was 2 he used to act out me wretching in the toilet with his playmobil mom and playmobil toilet- really if you don't have them- you must check them out! okay back the list) diggin the playmobil treehouse also some dino expedition, etc) mini titanic (so smart son can act out more magic treehouse books), some more instruments, plasma car at 17 mo old smart baby was totally having fun driving around the toy store on this. Some child size brooms/mops. a lunar module toy, lego shuttle (we the other rovers and rockets and you can build cool stuff with those exotic pieces- so much better than the plan lego unit bricks- so buy the crazy sets because they give you more creative pieces) red sox shirt, rock collection, my favorite game- Guess Who, some "1001 Things..." usborne books (i.e. 1001 things to spot on a farm- must have!I got at the ben and jerry's factory a few years back and adore!) possibly another architectural block set (smart son has had the best time building middle eastern temples for the past year) and more bare books for Smart sons "field guides" he likes to write.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

College Boyfriend Breadsticks

I love food, I really love food. Especially good food (as my friend shelah can attest) And one of my favorite foods of late- "college boyfriend breadsticks". See I had this boyfriend, KC, who I dated for most of my college years. (he was a good cook, he can't take credit for this recipe but "college boyfriend's friend's wife's breadsticks" is too long of a title- and "college boyfriend breadsticks" makes for much more interesting dinner conversation) Here's how they came to be-- Once we (me and KC) went to dinner at the home of one of his friend's, D & N. Well, in the course of the evening his wife and I made these breadsticks and they were so good. The one part that stuck in my head was that one of the ingredients was malted milk powder. I meant to get the recipe but then D&N moved and I broke up with KC and my hopes of getting the recipe were dashed. So for the 11 years since that night, I have thought about these breadsticks. I was thinking about them again as I was driving home from church a few months ago and decided I WOULD find the recipes. So when I walked in the door, I went immediately to the computer and scoured the internet for breadstick recipes with malted milk powder. I had searched before but this time I finally found one posted by someone with the screen name homegirl who claimed she got the recipe from her college roommate. Well I experimented a little and made some modifications and here they are... They are fast, easy, and excessively yummy- think breadstick nirvana

College Boyfriend Breadsticks
Dissolve- 1 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 c. warm water

Then Add- 1 Tbsp. malted milk powder
1 tsp. salt
3- 3 1/2 cups flour

Mix together well. Melt 1/4 c. butter. Pour half of the butter in 9x13" pan. press dough in pan. Pour remaining butter on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle lightly with Garlic salt. Let rise for 15-30 min. Then bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.

Monday, October 23, 2006

what to make of smart daddy-o?

So I made my Christmas list for smart daddy-o
1- A new 19” LCD monitor (a true necessity for my online gallery- and blogging)
2- A Gigantic mirror from IKEA (I have a thing for really big mirrors- being tall I hate nothing more than not being able to see my shoes and the top of my head in the same view- but this mirror is so huge I could be twice as tall and still see my whole self along with 5 other people).
So what does smart daddy-o do? He goes to Ikea gets the mirror and hangs it on my bedroom wall. I leave him alone in the office for an hour and bam a few days later the UPS guy knocks on my door and hands me my new monitor. Remember it’s not Christmas, it’s October. So I have decided this wife spoiling has to mean something because I don't think I am THAT good of a wife. 1- My husband has some secret other life and this is his elaborate diversion 2- He’s pulling some Johnny Lingo move and trying to get me to be a better wife by making me believe in myself by showering me with extravagance 3- I really am that good of a kisser 4- He is just that nice and loves me that much or 5- He is just to lazy to wrap them and very pragmatic and figures if he gives it now he can always use the “well this way you could start enjoying it” line, but remind me on Christmas what my gift was. So which do you think it is?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Box tops cutting=grown-up

Sometimes the funniest things make you feel like a grown –up. Today I did one of my first official PTO- parent volunteer tasks- It was a quite complicated too- (actually I really love menial tasks- no joke) My responsibilities were to 1- Trim the excess flash from the box tops for education (from General mills products) sent in by children at my son’s school. 2- Count them and then 3-Bundle the freshly trimmed (on the dotted lines) coupons into stacks of fifty. All I can say is it’s a good thing I had my kids when I was in my twenties because if I was much older I would have had to opt out do to visual disability as it would have required the extensive use of reading glasses. Just so you can appreciate here is one of the box tops (can you see it??)- most are the small yet respectable the size of a postage stamp, but some are so tiny, I have swallowed pills twice their size - they were ridiculous and attempting to hold these in stacks of fifty while rubber banding them without the tiny ones shooting out of the stack in all directions- a daunting task for even the most deft surgeon’s fingers. Like littlest soldier I managed well my charge to tend to 2 classes worth of labels (all 621 of them). Yes, I am but a small cog but important in greater machine of good for my local public school.

hyperdrive week

Smart daddy-o has had training at work so he was been going in early and staying late, which left me juggling swim, music, PTO, and town ed foundation mtg, 3 necessary shopping excursions (yes for the first time in my motherhood life I had 0 diapers) and a shower at my house (while smart daddy-o was enjoying a classical guitar concert). I don’t love weeks when the schedule goes into hyperdrive. (Yesterday also was not the best day for smart daddy-o break it to me that it looks like he’s going to Japan for about a week next month or that the night I am supposed to teach a painting class he has to go see blue man group for work).
As for a report on the party- VERY fun it was for my friend (also known as commenter DMS) who will soon be having a baby girl (her first)! I love DMS,(which blogger will not let me post a cute pic of her from the shower- grr- i've tried for 3 days- you can see her cake though here) she is an amazing teacher and is going to be a rockin’ mom! I am a party girl but smart baby has been complicating my usual party style. Mainly, because I So it’s been a super crazy week in smart mama land- I am finally starting to breathe. can’t set the tables until the absolute last minute, but having 20 people for dinner requires appropriate planning to ensure I actually have enough CLEAN soup bowls, dinner/salad/dessert plates, spoons, knives, forks, glasses in my possession. I counted out everything for the 3 different tables the day before and moved it to the center of the dining room table and then moved all chairs away from the table so they would serve as an alarm system (enter super smart mama xray hearing power when from rooms away I can identify exact sounds like “hmmm.. that sounds like a dining room chair being dragged across the floor” and run to avert domestic disaster) Smart baby still managed to lay to rest 3 salad bowls, one silver pineapple placecard holder, the glass out of a family picture, and utterly destroy one flower arrangement. (also insert photo of shattered pinapple salad bowl- again thanks to blogger you must use your imagination)
The one thing that has helped me though great music, which has me so itching to paint (but sadly no TIME!) So hopefully I will still be in the groove and steal some time in the next week to crank out some more pieces.
So my mellow groove music pics of the week- go download…
The Walnut Tree*(favorite of the week!) and Bend and Break by Keane
Strange & Beautiful and Brighter than Sunshine by Aqualung

Friday, October 20, 2006

lessons from safari

When I was doing a medical mission in Kenya, I stayed on an extra week and went on safari. If you have ever been you know it is amazing, and romantic in a very Hemingway sort of way. You spend your days in rugged jeeps traversing the savannah observing wild creatures at every turn, evening drinks (albeit sprite in my case) and appetizers as you watch the sunset from a high peak while flocks of flamingos come in on the lake. Night game drives covered up with blankets looking for leopards, dewy mornings drinking hot chocolate while animals gather around the watering hole. The sounds of monkeys screeching in the night outside your window. Oh and sleeping under mosquito nets (which I do not find romantic at all but rather claustrophobic and they reek of deet in attempts to ward off malarial mosquitos and you awaken clamouring for your inhaler in attempts to breathe) But the best part is snuggling into your bed which has been prewarmed with a hot water bottle. (Although i have to thoroughly inspect all the corners of the bed with a flashlight before crawling in (you know all those life threating rare diseasea and poisonous creatures are found in places like remote africa) I will warn you full well though- only on safari do they prewarm your beds- at the Hotel Kunste where I spent the previous 2 weeks the greatest luxury there was the provision of communal rubber flip flops with HK inscribed in them with a pocket knife (so you couldn't steal them)
And although I lack the other exotic elements here in new england-I sometimes try to recreate it the best I can with hot chocolate, some wild animals, and a Simply Cozy tucked into my bed(4 minutes in the microwave and it is so toasty- it actually keeps me warm all night- a major feat in new england winters.)

But if you don't have one and you live in a cold place - you know what to put on your Christmas List.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

lurker amnesty day

yes it's offical - today is lurker amnesty day- I know you're out there- so post a comment and say Hi (you are allowed to remain anonymous)-I promise I am nice- With over 12,000 pageloads- Some of you owe me a comment- be it good, bad, or ugly (okay don't make it too bad and make me cry)-I know you aren't responsible for all 12,000 of those hits, some of those are misguided searchers who stumble upon me looking for spudnut recipes, billy bookcases, ralph s mouse lesson plans and other random things.

So be brave and show me some comment love today and if you come out now I won't hunt you down-

Saturday, October 14, 2006

autumn musings

Yes we are just at peak foliage (here is smart baby chillin' in the back yard)- I have to say for the record how much I love the flaming oranges and reds of sugar maples- hands down my autumn favorites. I think it is the artist in me and my penchant for painting branches that predisposes me to this tree love. I am mesmerized and constantly distracted by them- Leaf peeping must be the cause of a lot of accidents and that is why car insurance is so outrageous here. (then again maybe it's just bad drivers and badly designed roads)
Today we had fall family pictures see them on my friends blog (here)
And here is a pumpkin shot for extra fall feel
Autumn is natures way of softening you up and making you love life in new engalnd before you get slammed with utter bone chilling, ice torture and grayness (aka winter). When living in New England it is requisite to have an entire wardrobe arsenal to combat the 9 months of cold. It has only taken me 5 years of of living here to realize the wool pea coat just doesn't cut it for everything. There are multiple coats and jackets necessary each with it's own unique weather niche- My love of the week- puffy vest. Yes I will now expound upon the virtues of the puffy vest. 1. It really does keep you warm (something i was long skeptical of) 2. It sort of warms your core? It has a cozy feel to it 3. It doesn't get it your way- I hate bulk, no dragging sleeves, etc. It allows great freedom of arm motion- a true motherhood necessity. The only down side is the swooshing nylon rubbing sound when putting smart baby down for a nap.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

smart by "association"

Yes, this year's Nobel prize winner (in medicine) goes to my Y. Yes, my very own little YMCA. It just goes to show you never know who you'll be sharing a pool or exercise equipment with. I feel like one of the cool kids now- in fact I think I feel myself getting smarter.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Phantom inflation

You may now it as doorbell ditching or phantoming, in our neighborhood its ghosting. You know where you leave a cutesy poem, and a treat and knock and run- with the injunction to continue the chain. Well something happened along the way- when I was growing up a plate of cookies was a total score- here is a photo of standard "ghosting fare" in our neighborhood-(tonight's loot) A pail, a stuffed animal, a book, an activity book, a DVD, pencils, plastic spiders, webs, bats (which smart son insisted wanted to sleep in his room under his dresser- a suitable habitat) a cat paper punch, candy (most of which got eaten in the heat of the moment), & window clings. I think I will have to have ghosting supplies as a separate column in this months budget.

also for those not in New England- falls here are glorious- here are some apple picking photos from our run to the farm - it is walking distance from our house. yep no grocery store in my town but hey we've got farms and white churches and a town center with gazebo!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

If you were a dessert you'd be

So I was driving home alone in the car from the store the other night- it was 930 and I had dessert on the brain the combination of this and free reign of radio controls (sans backseat shrieking) got my right brain going and this was my "deep thought"- "If I was this song what dessert would I be?". Needless to say I easily passed the time flipping through stations on the radio and here were some of my match-ups.

Michael Buble- Home- Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
James Taylor- Shower the People- Carrot Cake
John Mayer- Waiting on the World to Change- Banana Split
Frank Sinatra- Come fly with me- Vanilla Milkshake in soda fountain glass
Rob Thomas- Ever the Same- Friendly's fordbidden chocolate ice cream
Snow Patrol- Chasing Cars- Raspberry Sorbet with a dark chocolate dipped shortbread stick on the side
B-52's- Love Shack- grocery store cupcake with heavy frosting and sprinkles
Aerosmith- Angel- Vanilla Napoleon
Simon and Garfunkel- Like a Bridge over Troubled Water- Almond Poundcake
Louis Armstrong- What a Wonderful World- Apple Pie- cold - no ice cream

I then had the idea that it would be very fun to not limit it to desserts only- because some songs definitely have a savory feel- (c'mon this screams Barry White) It would be fun to have a dinner party- the soundtrack for which was designed with exact song/food harmony- or maybe I could start a restaurant and in your booth the corresponding song would play as you ate your food-
so come on play along- the last song you heard- give me the food accompaniment

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

mostly mom with an order of artist on the side

I've been busy- Sometimes it is hard when you aren't taking a class to make yourself grow as an artist, and then again right now I am really mom with an order of artist on the side. I try to force myself to change styles, genres in order to stay fresher but, still you always feel like your work looks like your work- I know that's not necessarily a bad thing but I like change, so I try to mix it up. I remember one studio art assignment to do 50 pieces in a weekend- sometimes just cranking out volume improves your work- well I certainly can't produce like that with my household to run--but I can give myself my own assignment- So here are the products of 5 days nap times and evenings- Usually I can't paint this fast- I guess sometimes you just have "energy" you have to get out and this week I channeled it into painting (when I haven't been finishing the bat costume or doing my exotic tasks like laundry--So this week I did 7 paintings- here are some of them- 3 impressionistic, 2 abstract, and 2 landscapes (a rarity for me!)you'll notice no portraits in that list! I forced myself to be a master color mixer on the landscapes and confined my palette to 4 tubes of paint (white, red, yellow, blue- true primaries. It is slower but really makes you think in terms of color theory.

So we have
Arches 18x24
Newport- 16x20
Peonies- 16x20
Hollyhocks 16x20

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

umbrellas are for sissies

I really like the rain, but I am not an umbrella girl. That is unless it is a torrential downpour and I am wearing some dry clean only clothes or attending some major event in which I must appear well coiffed. I say let it rain. I actually like the feeling of getting wet, I love feeling those cool tiny droplets on my skin. It really doesn't bother me at all. When ever I see people with umbrellas I am reminded of a minor story by Isaac Asimov I read in Jr. High called "Rain, Rain Go Away" about some people with peculiar neighbors, the Sakkaros, who in the end turned out to be made of sugar. This snippet of science fiction always pops in my head when it rains and someone offers me an umbrella- and my first response is usually- "That is okay- I won't melt". As a child I used to play "rain" by setting up my smurf sprinkler in the front yard and then sitting under it in my swimsuit with an umbrella (my way of blocking out the sunlight which would ruin my carefully crafted illusion. Then I would stick my arms and legs out so I could feel the rain fall on me. My parents attempt to civilize me by giving me their extra umbrellas when they come to visit,(because I don't buy them) but to no avail, they sit in the closet until they come and rouse them to use or my children question how these novel button and spoked objects work.

A picture of some of my favorite rain circa 2000- in Siberia- I was 12 weeks pregnant with smart son at the time and the cool misty rain was the one thing that kept me from spending the entire trip vomiting!

Monday, October 02, 2006

no one tells you

There are a few things no one tells you about before you have kids - first- When you are nursing you will literally be up every 2 hours to nurse- which will take 40 minutes and then you go back to sleep and wake up 1 hr and 20 min later- repeat cycle through the entire night for months on end (at which point your are so sleep deprived you resemble someone on heavy doses of controlled substances)! the second secret is the high chair stage- And for the record- I HATE the high chair stage-absolutely, positively, can't stand this part, IMO the most tortorous part of young motherhood.
Stickiness everywhere, crumbs in every crevice, morsels of food scattered all over my floor, 2-3 outfits a day, no bib or washcloth is an equal match for this evil, no matter how clean you get it the cycle repeats itself 5x a time and you are taken from clean to filth in a matter of seconds. Here is an image- for you to appreciate--smart baby's high chair- after his breakfast of oatmeal and muffin. smart baby is not the neatest or most agreeable eater which only serves to complicate matters. I would be so much happier if there were disposable high chairs- or atleast some sort of auto carwash you could send it through with high powered brushes and sudsing action, instead it is mom with a toothbrush and bleach water- All I can say is smart baby- I love you alot and if you weren't so incredibly cute you 'd be eating in a trough on the floor.