Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

another tree

After my week of blogging I took a few days break. In that time I accomplished this. Here is my latest project - here is the 4th painting in my tree series.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Smart Mama Awards: Best of...

Best household helper: Bissell Steam Mop
I blogged before about this being the year of floor care- I love, I adore my bissell steam mop it makes me clean my floors more. it blesses my life- is so easy to use, total 2 thumbs up for moms with messy kids!!
Best Indulgence: ESCADA Perfumes

My new perfumes. I also blogged before about perfume shopping- I am so convinced escada makes the best perfumes in the world- these are my three favorites- whenever i wearing them I just want to keep smelling myself-So if you see me walking around sniffing you'll know what i am doing-- they are that good!
Best KIDS thing: Renzulli Learning

Well this is hard to explain- if you want to learn more you can read about it here. If you are in education you know Joe Renzulli is one of the leaders in gifted education- and this is designed with the enrichment model in mind ofr all students- to encourage project based, interest driven learning. Bascially it does a number of things- creates a customized learning profile for your child then presents them with 100s nay 1000s of learning activites etc that fit their interests. Like the other day we were doing something with cuneiform (and I went on searched it an in 10 seconds had my sons name translated into sumerian cuneiform and a ton of stuff on ancient mesopotamia) It will link you to any good thing for kids there is on the web. I highly recommend it for any family-If you are looking to keep yopur kids engaged in worthwhile activites this summer- This is what you want- I can hang this prize over my boys and require and number of tasks from them- Even SS#2 shouts with glee "renzoooi!" as an educator i don't push alot of this but this is a good thing!

Best Healthy Snack:Weight Watchers Lemon Cream Pie Yogurt

Even my kids try to steal these from me-- so yum!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

from my kitchen to yours: cream cheese sheet cake

Today I thought I'd share one of my recent cravings. ShawnTooley's Cream Cheese Sheetcake. I made it valentine's week for a "sweet swap" but it didn't satisfy my craving so I had to make another pan this week (yes that would be a jelly roll pan). Think cross between soft white cake and cheesecake with a texas sheet cake style cooked chocolate frosting. They are fast easy and makes alot! I had great plans of dropping a few postpartum pounds before a party this weekend so I would actually have more than 3 pants options but alas- the cake squares have thwarted my plan.

This is a recipe from our good friends the Tooley's- as the story goes Shawn was making these and misread the cream cheese directions and put in 16 oz instead of 6 oz as the recipe called for. The mistake proved providential and alas the improved recipe was born! After talking to our friend Jennifer (seen here at one of our late night frosting makings) the other week, about more recipes, I was missing their family, so I made these in honor of them. In our family, recipes often bear the name of the person who introduced us to them for example Kearsley Casserole (once brought to us by my friend loranna's mom) or Lauren's (college roommate) Penne Arribiata, Aunt Dawn's Special Chicken, Shelah's Best Birthday Cake, Jennifer's Festive Salad. It is one more way to remember the people I love and how they have touched my life.

So without further ado...
Shawn Tooley's Cream Cheese Sheetcake

1 c.+ 2 Tbsp. butter or marg.
2 pkgs (8oz) cream cheese (i used the neufatchel and it works fine)
2 1/4 c. sugar
6 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c cake flour (if you don't have this you can do the flour cornstarch substitution)

1 c. sugar
1/3 c evaporated milk
1/2 c butter or marg.
1/2 c. semi sweet choc. chips

In a bowl, cream butter cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mix well after each. Pour into greased jelly roll pan (15x10). bake at 325 for 30-35 min. For frosting combine milk and sugar, bring to a boil over med heat. then turn heat down, cover and cook for 3 min (do not stir). Then stir in butter and choc chips until melte and smooth. Cool slightly, pour over cooled cake. 24-30 servings.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

kids and itunes

Seriously bless the man or woman who created itunes- and freed you from having to buy the whole CD- because lets face it rarely do you want the whole CD- i love to pay by the song, especially for kids music. My boys are big fans of itunes- They have their own playlists for various activities (like "running time" when they literally run for 15-20 straight around the family room couch) This is good thing though, ss#1 ran over a mile on the track at the Y this weekend! Here are few of my boys favorite songs: (Artwork courtesy of SS#1- it totally rocks acrylic and gold leaf on canvasboard he did yesterday!)

Tantrum by Spin Doctors from the ever great dog train CD- this is worth the whole CD as is its predecessor Philadelphia Chickens
Hampster Dance - by Hampton the Hamster, yes this against my better judgment- high on the annoying factor by harmless silly kids fun.
We are the Champions by Crazy Frog- this is catchy and often brightens my dinner preparation hour.
You've Got to be Clean by Guster- anything that promotes cleanness gets 2 thumbs up in my book- my boys favorite line "each days a fight 'gainst the forces of dirt, dirt, dirt!"
Mahna Mahna by Cake (you may recognize this from an old muppets movie) we chose the remake by Cake my boys adore it
La La La Lemon by BNL this also doubles to give smart son 2 good practice making the tricky L sound
Istanbul (not Constantinople) by They might be Giants (see this has special meaning because I used to live in Turkey andmy boys love it when I make Turkish food)
Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas this totally lets me show off my super kicking skills- nothing says cool mom like being able to kick 6 feet in the air. Ss #2 likes to sing this to SS#3 when he cries-" everybody was kung fu fighting... those kids were fast as lighting... in fact it was a little bit frightening" such an endearing lullaby don't you think?
Main Title (Theme from Star Wars) by John Williams- nothing promotes light saber fighting more than this song. truly a classic.
Rainbow Connection by Ryan Shupe- closest thing to kermit and a little jazzed up
If All of the Raindrops by Laura Doherty- a favorite song form my childhood
Pots and Pans by the Bacon Brothers- this is a catchy tune
Thrift Shop by Dan Zanes- Afterall who doesn't love a good thrift shop find
A you're Adorable by John Lithgow because it is a fun song to sing to your kids at night

me A to Z

Here is me from A to Z from my MOF Blackeyedsue's blog

A- Attached or Single? eternally attached

B- Best Friend? DH, and shelah

C- Cake or Pie? Do I really have to chose? I have always loved the deep thoughts by jack handy that says "if you have a choice between regular heaven and pie heaven, you should chose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if not mmmm." But then again, I am also a cake girl so a definite toss up.

D- Day of Choice? Friday after 5 pm anyone who votes otherwise is crazy-- there is something so liberating about the official start of the weekend

E- Essential Item? Being creative- I have to be creative in one form or another, nothing gets me in a slump faster than no creative outlets or being to tired ot busy to be creative.

F- Favorite Color?favorite dramatic color- Red. Favorite relaxing color- blue- I could go on about color all day but then again I am a painter.

G- Gummy Bears or Worms? bears

H- Hometown? I don't feel like I have one I never lived anywhere long enough to have a numerical majority (I have lived here 6.5 yrs- longer than i have ever lived anywhere else but in February I don't want to admit New England is my home)

I- Favorite Indulgence? cremebruleekeylimepielavacakescookiedoughwrightsdairyeclairs

J- January or July? July give me a beach and sprite with fresh lime in it!

K- Kids? 3 boys just enough to fill the house with running, flying balls and way to much energy and mess.

L- Life isn't complete without? good people- i love my friends - i love to be inspired by other peoples gifts and talents- they inspire me to grow, do more, & be better.

M- Marriage date? Going to the blue point (Duck, NC) for dinner, walking to the beach at night.

N- Number of brothers and sisters? ) zero brothers and one sister who doesn't blog so no link!

O-ranges or Apples? Apples cause they make better desserts...

P- Phobias and Fears? Ice cream trucks- seriously they freak me out. Its that eery music they play it totally traumatized me as a child and not big on snakes either (the cursed things that live in my backyard and my son brings in the house)

Q- Quote?Mother Teresa—“We must not drift away from humble works, because these are the works nobody will do. It is never too small. We are so small we look at things in a small way. But God almighty sees everything great. Therefore if you just go and sit and listen,- go visit somebody, or bring somebody a flower- small things, wash clothes for somebody, or clean the house, very humble work .that is where you and I must be. For there are many people who can do big things. But there are very few who will do the small things.”

R- Reason to smile? My baby. He gives delicious smiles when you rub his belly.

S- Season of choice? late spring/early summer (in New England that is) when you can finally break out the sandals. I love basking in the excitement of spring fever, going to a neighboring town and walkign to dairy queen and playing around outside. Playing football in the house isn't the same.
Tag? If you are reading this and you blog consider it an invitation join in the fun

U-unknown fact about me? There are probably few things I haven't revealed on my blog over the past few years that are even a bit interesting. If you want to know little know things about me you can read them here 50 things about me.

V- Vegetable? probably broccoli

W- Worst Habit? not finishing something I start- I know life would be easier if i finished one thing before starting the next- Sorry its that creative artist in me that likes doing 20 things at once and hates wrapping up the end of project- this can be seen in the lack of editing in my blog posts.

Y- Your favorite food?I really dig thanksgiving dinner foods- turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, hoemmade rolls, pie (wow pie is cropping up all over the place)- then again i love a good petite filet mignon.

Z- Zoo animal?my favorite the ever unheralded marmoset.

Monday, February 18, 2008

for the love of statcounter

so I was over on my friend Courtney's blog and she was talking about her love of statcounter and bloglines and the interesting things you learn from statcounter. people who stumble upon your site through the random of internet searches:

did you know that my blog is:

the 1st entry if you do a google search for smart mama. I guess that gives me true claim on the title (i think it is kind of funny that someone started a blog entitled one smart mama- a clear knock off of my title-- this after I corresponded with her regarding recurrent pregnancy loss resources, she also runs an infertility blog) imitation is the sincerest for of flattery right! So don't be fooled I am stil the original!!

the 11th entry if you do a google search for college boyfriend- all because I posted about the
college boyfriend breadsticks once.

I was once featured in a blog designed to keep Indian readers current on the all things India (Because I revealed my secret desire to
be in a bollywood film)

sometimes you internet searches lead you into things you weren't anticipating...

I've had people want to buy my art because they were searching for outer space birthday party ideas wound up at my discussion of
ss#3's 6th birthday party and then abandon child's birthday party planning to pick out art on my gallery site

or those searches lead you somewhere in hopes of answers, but fail to give them

like today when some when searching for "how to make a child's stretchy headband" -I had to laugh although i am sometiems crafty- I have 3 sons hence no stretchy headband directions on my blog-- the poor person wound up on this
entry where smart son 1 posed great questions as to why people in more primitive times are always shown wearing headbands.

few things make me happier

than that little box in the corner when you do turbo tax that tells you what your refund will be! (Smart daddy-o totally deprived me of this pleasure by doing the bulk of the taxes while i waited in the line with the worlds slowest checker at WalMart today). bring on the check!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

don't ask me in february...

As the title says... don't ask me in February if I want to leave New England because the answer will always be a resounding YES! It is dark, it is bleak, it is frigid, and usually involves some bone chilling combination of rain, ice, and/or snow. Don't get me wrong I like snow, I like to cozy up under a blanket and drink hot chocolate, but after Christmas it looses it's charm. Winter in New England is like a bad houseguest that way overstays its welcome. I also find it interesting that schools in New England have 2 spring breaks one in Febraury and one in April (neither of those times are even remotely warm!) so your options are 1 spend a fortune trying to get out of town with every other seasonal affective disorder crazed family or enjoy a week of crazy cooped up kids- usually the later prevails. (to make matters worse smart daddy-o and I spent feb break in puerto rico last year, which left us feeling quite disenchanted with our home state. Now as feb break rolls around I'd give anything for warm sunshine!

The other day as I pushed my cart loaded with groceries and my boys out of the warm grocery store into the 7 degree weather I thought about what a better mood I'd be in right then if I was in California, Florida, Arizona- (okay basically anywhere) and I could saunter out of hte store- take my time unloading the bags and strapping in my kids. Instead I lift the rear latch throw the bags in as quickly as possible and harangue my kids- "faster, faster!! strap in!! its freezing!!!"

I know it is a case of the grass is always greener- when we lived in California the lack of true seasons made me a bit crazy- although wearing cute sandals all year long did not. This is probably why I have been painting and eating like a fiend- trying escape the february doldrums!

But truth be told-- the grass IS always greener (basically anywhere on the planet) than in New England in February.

(Yes that is my back yard the other week!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

yep more paintings...

okay more paintings... my creative binge continues kind of by default. Smart daddy-o has been hogging the computer every night which is necessary for the other items on my to do list. Which has left me this as my alternative activity from the hours of 8:30-11 pm after my boys are asleep. So here is the second in the aspen grove series it is big 30x40. I am thinking I want to do a dbl panel (so 60x40") for my dining room. the third still 1/2 done in the tree series also big 30x40"
layered garden study- trying out different patterns for tree series 16x20"
small studies from my office geometry series this time different color palette - these two are both are 16x20"

blogging 2 days straight so far yay for me!! Studio night is this week which means friends coming over to my house to paint and chat- yes we consider it our modern day quilting bee. We'll see what the next projects will be.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I miss blogging

Last night my IRL friend. Laura sent me an email asking me if I blogged. I admitted yes I was part of that underground network of blogging moms but, that my blog had been long neglected-- oh these last 12 months. I made me take a moment and go back through my blog archives and it made me realize how much I miss being a very faithful blogger. I have missed recording those things that occur in my life. I miss sharing my random thoughts of the day. The writing is therapeutic and I miss the commenting conversation that ensues. I love sharing my voice the essayist Wendell Berry talks about how our lives have to be used up by something- and I like to have mine used up by motherhood and I love sharing that decision with the world. Anyway now that I am through my sick pregnancy and newborn crisis- I am vowing to return to my full bloggerness- which means posting and keeping up on others blogs. And now that I have completed my 14 days of valentines challenge- I may have to do a 14 days of blogging challenge to get back in the habit. I need to clean up links and I'd love to so some reformatting- after all this template is back from the old days when the only way to customize was editing the HTML directly- before the "beta version" of blogger- (you old timers will remember those days oh so many years back). I popped over to my best friend Shelah's blog and she too was talking about how you start blogging and it evolves and changes due to your obligations/audience and suddenly you want to get it back to the thing you wanted it to be. So what I am shooting for some of my ranting on social, educational issues, some fun observations, adventures in mom, some shameless posting of my lastest creative creations, discussion of MOM POWER! and well no mommy blog is complete with out your kids crazy antics. So life thanks for the inspiration, Laura & Shelah- smartmama is getting back in the game!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

more new art

My painting binge continues 3 are inspired by Utah, land of my college years. The first, aspen grove. The next two are abstractions of photos I took of the gardens at Temple Square in Salt Lake City this summer and the last one is 2nd in the tree series i am working on - it's not done yet but coming along- I love the colors. I can't wait for my big shipment of giant canvases to arrive-- there are more paintings waiting to be made-- alas so many ideas, so little time.