Monday, December 16, 2013

Salt Dough Wreath

As a family, it has become a tradition to make salt-dough ornaments both for our tree, and to give as home-made presents.

We enjoy making the dough, smoothing it out, and then using all the fun cookie cutters we want.

Since it takes so long to dry out/cook in the oven, we don't paint them until at least the next day, then, if you want to add sparkles, add another day.  NOTE: If you choose to use sparkles with your little ones, use one color at a time unless you want a huge sparkle mess on your hands.  Though, it isn't as bad a using fake snow in the theater, that stuff stays around year after year after year.

Oh, sorry,  it's late, the kids are asleep, and I'm rambling.

What was I going to talk about?  RIGHT, the amazing salt dough wreath.  You can do this, too!

Or, if you're lazy, send me $100 and I'll make one for you, too.

Again, sorry, I'm tired.

Let's just get into it, ey?


The Dough:
Note: There are many iterations of salt dough out there, I've managed to combine most of them, and they turned out ok.

2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Salt
1 cup water ( more if needed)
(try adding a bit of cinnamon for scent and color if you like)

Knead until a a firm smooth dough forms.

Roll out to 1/8 " or so ( up to you)

Cut as desired.

Bake at 250 degrees for 3-5 hours

Carefully turn items over half way through.

The Wreath:

I used these cookie cutters:

The Fun porcupine I used for his spikes, then used the tip of the snow flake to cut the rest away (it became the greenery behind the gingerbread men.

I assembled all the pieces first laying them out opposite sides, then in between.  I pulled arms and legs forward and laid all the porcupine pieces behind everybody.

Make sure you wet any connecting pieces well and press to connect them.  For the eyes et al, I used a paperclip to rough up the areas then added the slightly wet pieces.

Baked everything and...

Now, I have been known to go a bit overboard in the paint department, so I tried to be subtle this time:

After it was dry I sprayed it with a satin finish and added the only ribbon I had in the house.  I do however, suggest you use a cloth ribbon... if I can find a time to get out the store, I'll get one, too.

Let me know how yours turns out!!!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A turkey Day Thanksgivannukah - and a Turkey recipe hint

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, though far away from all our friends and family, we are thankful for each other, and the love that crosses the miles.

Never before had either Brian or Myself hosted a Thanksgiving.  We had some students at the University who couldn't make it home for the Holiday, over to celebrate with us.

And wow, did we prepare a feast.

We catered to both our omnivorous guests as well our veggie friends.

Might I add, the turkey I prepared was the best turkey I had ever eaten.

We prepared it a la Julia Child, but used the recipe in Cooks Illustrated

They suggested a novel approach.  Take the leg quarters off before cooking, Remove the thigh bone, season with sage, salt and pepper, and sew it back up ( not for the faint of heart, mind you.)

Remove the backbone, and pan sear the breast skin side down (without the leg quarters),, and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

Then, remove the breast and lay it over the bed of stuffing you've prepared along with the leg quarters brush a thin layer of Olive oil and lightly salt and roast another 30 minutes.  Then, lower temp to 350 for 30 minutes to 1 hour 20 depending on the size of the bird, to reach safe temperature.  Let sit for 20-30 minutes.

It was juicy, flavorful, and so easy to carve the dark meat.

Brian prepared the sweets and mashed taters yesterday, and I roasted to bird, veggie stuffing, and glazed carrots today.

Overall a highly successful day filled with new friends, and thoughts of loved ones far away.

Happy Thanksgivannukah!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In 5 minutes.

What can you do in 5 minutes?

Think about it.  Does it take you longer to use the bathroom? Take a shower? Get dressed? Prepare lunch?

This is what my son did in 5 minutes, today:

In 5 minutes, my son got into the stash of Christmas and Hanukkah presents and start opening everything.  Thankfully, he was so proud that he found a driedel,  he stopped what he was doing and came out of his room.  After disappearing for another 2 minutes, he came back with the packing material for the large box of Amazon presents.  Thankfully, he thinks that poppers are fun in and of themselves and likes to pop the in front of me.

In the next few minutes that it took me to move all the presents from their prior location to a new, out of reach location, my son took the entire tube of toothpaste and smeared it all over his room.  I came back into him room to discuss not opening presents, when I smelled an overwhelming scent of mint.


"Daaaaaniel!" I saw it on the walls first.  Dripping light blue slime trails with silver sparkles.

"Daaaniel?" He pointed to the window sill.  There in the sunlight was a silver dollar size blob of the. same, with a thin line that began to drip down the wall behind his bed.

I found it on a sock.

I found toothpaste footprints on the carpet.

And I found it on his comforter.  I'll get the chunks, but that, he'll have to live with until the next time I have to clean it for a more serious, natural based mess.

5 minutes.  Today.

It took longer than that to clean it up.
It took longer than that to write this.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


It's been a while since I posted about the kids, and all the fun and interesting things they get into.  I suppose over the years many things just don't surprise me anymore.

Then today happened.

I'm calling today's post "Padded" because that exactly what the kids were.  Covered in pads.

I caught them as they were saying "Ouch, Ouch, Ouch and ripping them mostly off themselves.

This is what I saw:

The box was empty.

The trail leading to them:


Please, child, speak no evil.

Speak. No. Evil.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

YOA: Year of Adventures - November

To quickly recap, I turned 40 this year, and for my birthday my husband is surprising me with a new adventure every month. Hence, my YOA, or Year of Adventures.

November's YOA began on Thursday morning.  Brian (my husband), said he needed the car to run an errand.  No biggie, except he is a terrible liar.  I knew something was up, but I wasn't sure what it was.  I pushed, I pressed the issue, I basically called him out on it, to which he replied "You said it was OK to lie to you if it were for a good reason," which or course, I don't quite remember saying it that way, but hey, I'm 40, I forget a lot of things...

Sitting at the computer minding my own business, procrastinating, I hear the front door open.  I'm not in the least divided from my work to look up at Brian.  But no, the voice from the kitchen is not his sweet tenor "hey honey!," but my best friend, AJ, who surprised me from NY!!!!!

The tears of happiness flowed.

But that wasn't the real adventure.

Saturday morning we woke up early.  I was told to dress in layers, but comfortable.  Check.

Brian watched the kids, and told me that he was too scared for this adventure, so AJ and I were going together.

The intrigue!

It took about an hour of driving out into the desert, past a stinky dairy farm, through miles of arid desert landscape, and finally into a tiny town, to get to our destination.

Before we arrived, a plane was blocking our path:

We drove around it.

Now at this point, I'm thrilled an terrified at the same time.  WHAT? WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO??  Wait, am I going to need Dramamine?

AJ smiled, and said she was very excited.

We drove a bit farther until we came to out destinations:

YOA: November - Hang Gliding!!!!!!

After all the legal paperwork was signed - you know, in case you die...blah blah blah... at least my life insurance is current.  We sat down for a little "what's-what" and "how to" and all that school requirement 5 minutes worth, which resulted in our student license:

With that in my pocket, I was first:  

I was harnessed above the pro, helmeted, goggled, and given a quick rundown which boiled down to "it'll be a bit bumpy at first, but once up, your heart rate will slow down as you relax into it. Oh, and don't touch the aluminum, it's the steering wheel" 

Got it.

We were hooked up to the ultralight plane, and from there it towed us to 2,400'.  It took about 8 minutes to get us that high, and trip up was as close to being superman as I human could be - safely.

When the cable was released, the glider jerked back a bit, but then it was all us.  Just the sound of the wind in my ears, but other than that, it was glorious.

Bill, the instructor guy, showed me how he could swoop and turn, and showed my how to do it as well.  I opted for a smooth, straight flight.  If we could have just gone straight for miles I would have, but for some reason he wanted us to stay over the landing area.  *sigh

There were no tall buildings, no big houses, no traffic sounds, no babies crying, and not a cloud in the sky.  It was even warmer above 1,600', not colder like I had thought.  

We even saw a red tailed hawk flying on the updrafts.

Truly, an amazing feeling and an even more amazing surprise.

When I landed, I was a bit shaky but filled with awe of the glory of the earth.

So much so, that I even gave her a present, my breakfast;

I really should have taken that Dramamine.  Sorry, it is my blog after all... ;)

It was AJ's turn next, and she was every bit the adventurer I wasn't.  She didn't even leave a present for our Mother. heh heh.

Together we shared a memory to last forever.

Here is a short video AJ took, click HERE to watch me fly high into the clear crisp morning sky.


Lastly, if you are interested in participating in any future adventures, or would like to help Brian in the planning or paying for any little parts, please email him:  Please put "A Year of Adventures" in the subject line.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Year of Adventures (YOA) Part 1: October

This weekend began my "Year of adventures."

Let me start by saying that I do not know what to expect before the surprise is revealed, and no one who does know, is allowed to tell me that they are even aware of what will occur.

This is what I was told:
-wear a long sleeved shirt
-and shoes that went over and protected my ankle.
-bring a water bottle

In the car was a pad and a pen.

Brian asked me to leave work a bit early, since traffic seemed to be heavier than anticipated.  We were both nervous and excited, and bit overwhelmed at the sheer number of cars on the road at 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon.

We chit-chatted.

We made small talk.

 I used every technique in my arsenal to get hints as to what I was to expect.

Not knowing what to expect, I even packed my backpack as though it were a 24-hr bugout bag replete with my throwing knives, food, fire-starting gear and some other things.  I was ready for anything.  When  I asked if I will need any of things in my bag, he simply said: "Maybe, but I can't be sure."


And so, with excitement built to an almost frenzy, we pulled up to my first adventure:


The first day was book work, so I suppose I didn't need the throwing knives.  At least I had them, right?

5 hours later, 10 videos, and an entire book, I scored a 98 on my written exam.  Only 1 of 50 wrong.

PASS, part one.

This weekend is the riding portion of the class: 2 days, 5 hours each.

This is my on my ride for the weekend:

I can wave because I was in neutral.  

I couldn't do that yesterday.

I had never been the driver of a motorcycle before, only a passenger.

Riding was intimidating at first, we began by just going through our staring procedures; getting on, starting it, turning it off and getting off.  By the end of the 1st day I was getting up to 3rd gear, weaving, stopping short, going slow in tight areas, taking turns tight, taking a 90 degree slow and tight, and more.  

The instructor asked if it was true that I had never ridden a motorcycle.  Aside from racing mountain bikes, I had honestly never ridden before.

He said I took to riding like a duck does to water.

I'm taking that as a complement.

The folks in front of me just could not go fast enough, at least I could practice downshifting more than I had expected.

Tomorrow is my driving test.  If I pass, I get my state motorcycle license!!!

A friend of mine saw what I was doing on Facebook as said that she was selling her 2010 Yamaha V-star 250cc.  How could I refuse????  Now, to pass my test, get some gear, and get through tomorrow.  

She said she'd take payments, and hold onto it until I could pay it off.


If you're feeling a bit lush this month and feel like helping with payments, email Brian:  Please put "Year of Adventure" in the topic.

I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow!!!!


Today was harder than yesterday.  Tighter turns, figure eights, sharp curves, swerves, and stopping in a turn.

Sadly, I tipped the bike over in an attempted figure eight.  Turns out, if you brake in a turn you tip over.

After a rocky start, I kicked ass in the turns, swerves and hazards.  I tore up the higher speed skills, and maneuvered through the curves like a a .....  skilled newbie.

Testing happened throughout the day.  For every infraction of missed action, you get a point.  Getting points is bad.  If you get 20 points - you fail.  Throughout the day I accumulated 4 points.  Three for putting my foot down in the middle of the figure eight turn, and one point for my final "speed and stop."  I got a a point for stopping one foot ahead of where I was supposed to stop.

All said and done, day three, and final score:

I Passed!!!!

I now have 6 months to find a DMV, bring in my certificate, and I get a new licence with a motorcycle endorsement.

Happy trails!

A Year of Adventures

In September, I turned the big 4-0.  Now, as a stand alone birthday, it's just a number, and I neither feel nor look my age. (at least I don't think so.)  Likely, having a two, and an almost four year old has a lot to do with it.

To help ease me into my forties, my husband did what no husband in history has ever done before; he planned what would soon prove to be a series of presents no amount of hugs, kisses or other special favors could ever pay back, equal, or be bested by.

On my actual birthday, Brian got really quiet, started talking in his calm and even tone, and began introducing his presents.  He said that what was in the following  boxes was something I would have to learn to use for future use.

Intriguing, right??

I opened the heavy boxes and found a few amazing and surprising presents; throwing knives, two sets.  The first, a true, full use, high end set of two "Down Under" throwing knives.  The second,  another fabulous set of Hubbard trainers.   The last larger box was target.  A portable archery target so I would bring my bow outside of brush off the dust.

That was just the beginning.

The real present, he said, is something quite unlike anything I've ever heard about before.  He has planned an entire Year of Adventures.

Every month for this entire year, he will surprise me with a new and exciting adventure.  Amazing, right?
Not only that, he has invited anyone who is interested to join me/us in these activities.  Some will join us, some are contributing to the "adventure fund" and some are just along for the vicarious ride.

If any of these sound interesting or you would like more information, please email Brian  -  please use "Year of Adventure" in the subject line.

I'm keeping everyone else up to date here, on my blog, after each adventure.

What amazes me most, is that he had been taking extra work to help set up a fund for these adventures.  I love this man so.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Did you know?

 Some things you just have to find out the hard way.
The following is a list of things you should already know:

1.  Always check your salad dressing bottle spout before you pour.  Since there are so many squirt bottles out there, you can forget that not all bottles have that protective barrier.

2.  Always double check that the cheap plastic lid from fast food joints has been put on securely before you take your first sip.

3.  Always smell the milk before you pour a glass.  However, if you are not in your own home, don't stick your nose other peoples milk - that's...gross.  Better to pour a glass then smell it.

4.  Tie your shoes before you get on as escalator.

5.  When zipping a zipper, run your other hands thumb on the inside to help prevent clothing/skin from being caught.

6. Acetone dissolves Crazy Glue.

7.  Crazy Glue shut that tiny paper cut that keeps opening up.  The sting of the glue will be worth it.

8.  Edited for moral and character growth.

9.  If you are changing the diaper of baby boy, make sure they are covered at all times.  I repeat, at all times.   (the following image is of a real product...)

10.  Check that you have enough toilet paper BEFORE you sit down.

Then, while you're sitting there, you can do this:

Look for more of these here:
Anastassia Elias.

What have you learned the hard way?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Potty Training ups & Downs

Everybody poops.

A parent knows this best of all (perhaps excluding some caregivers, but we're in the same boat, there.)

 Oh, please, before I go on any further, let me admit the following vocabulary for your approval:

potty = toilet
pee-pee = urine
big-boy undies = underwear
poop = feces
poopies = feces
plop-plops = feces
shit = any fecal matter that does not go in either a diaper or the toilet.
penis = badly aimed, dangerous firing, urine expulsion unit.

Now that we know the terms in our house, let me continue.  Over the past year, Daniel has been expressing interest in using the potty.  We, as we should be, are always thrilled.  We cheer when he sits on the potty.  We clap when he goes into the bathroom and just farts.  We break out the potty treats; a couple of M&Ms for pee-pee, and a mini snickers for poopies.  We call our friends, call our families, and post of Facebook when he does anything of substance.

I'm not apologizing for the posts.

For the past three days Daniel has been in big-boy undies, and has been dry during the day most of the time.

Yesterday, he shit in his underwear because he was didn't want to stop eating dinner.  That was fun.  So, we thought we had emptied the contents of the underwear into the toilet and wrapped up his soiled clothes in a bag to be washed.  That night, down stairs at the washer, I pulled out the clothes along with another load ( it cost $1.50 wash/ $1.50 dry so we don't waste a wash) and tossed it all in the washer on hot.  When I went to put the load in the dryer it all smelled like shit.  Oh yes, the whole load.  I picked up a portion of the clothes to be surprised by little poop pellets stuck to the inside of the washer.  Fun times.  I pulled out the clorox wipes, wiped down the parts I found and ran it again.

I wish that were the end of the day, but it continues...

This evening, both Amelia and Daniel yelled that they needed to use the potty ( at the same time.)  I told Amelia she could go first. She sits there, farts, and gets down.  YAY!!! Then, while Daniel actually goes poopies in the potty ( High Fives, YAY!'s and a Snickers later) Amelia is still sans diaper and she squats down on the tiles just next to the toilet where Daniel is still sitting.

"Amelia!" I say, "No going pee-pee's on the floor please, Daniel is almost done!"
To which she replies "no pee-pee Mommy!"
And, to her credit, she was right.  In a perfectly round pile, she left me her own pile of shit.

Now picture this, I'm wiping poop off the floor, off her feet, off her butt, and then, trying to wash my hands before Daniel is done and needs to get wiped as well. 

I have Clorox wipes piled, used diapers stacked, and two half naked kids laughing at each other.

At least the kid wipes were flushable.

And now...bath time.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A vacation to remember

Family vacations!

first flights...

...and making a big splashdown.

Meeting the newest members of the family...

..and giving them the stink eye.

Meeting furry friends...

and reconnecting with old ones. ( thanks for the tour, Melissa!)

Making memories:

And after it is all said and done...dreaming about it.

My posts just wouldn't be the same without a Mess-of the-day.  Brought to you this day by Honey-Nut Cheerios:

Please check off Daniel's bucket list- fly in a helecopter.  Thanks to Pop-Pop and Grandma:

Though we need a vacation from this vacation, we had a wonderful time.  We laughed, we cried, we took our medicines like champs, and, we made lots of great memories.

All in all, it's a good thing family vacations are only once ever other year.  Next time, the kids will be older, more self sufficient, out of diapers, and able to swim.

 We learned so many things about vacationing; what to bring, what not to bring, and what to expect or what not to expect.  For the first time I can honestly say that the time didn't fly by, it just ticked by like it always does with us. One hug at a tme.

Vacation from this vacation

Things I've learned on our family vacation to Florida:

1- Always check carry-on bags before you get to the airport.

2- Remember to pack only what you need.

3 - Don't pack "nice clothes." They only take up space and since I didn't pack a nanny, I didnt need them.

4- I will hire a nanny for any extended stay vacation we go on n the next 5 years.

5 -Always have some cash on hand

6 - Pack more diapers than you need in your carry on.  You can purchase a pack of 2 in the airport for $2.50.  Likely not the size you need.

7 - Pink eye can be picked up in a pool.

8 - You can get an ear infection if you dont get all the water out of your ears...from the pool.

9- If the meat is grey, but still smells fine - DONT EAT IT.

10 - Don't let your child play with your phone if their favorite game requires streaming...and you don't have unlimited megabites.

11 - Always keep the memory card in your camera. Especially if you are going to take your son ( who is obsessed with helecopters) on his first helecopter ride.

12 - You can buy anything you can buy at Disney, for half the price at walgreens.

13- Toys at the dollar store are a dollar for a reason, and too expensive for what they are.

14- don't turn the bubblejets on in the spa tub while your kids are in it.

15-  White Sidwalk chalk comes off of floors, walls, carpets, chairs, sofas, and clothing - but pink doesn't.

16- On a positive note, puddle jumpers are worth every cent. Every damn cent.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bean Angels

In lieu of a written post, I present to you a video.

 Bean Angels

Wait for the end, it's worth it.

Aren't you glad you aren't at my house right now?

(2 weeks later...)

In response to several emails regarding the bean event at the house, I feel I must explain:  The weather here in CT has been less than ideal, rain, snow, mud at the park, and just plain cold temperatures.  With little ones cooped up, I had to be creative.

What could they do and not get hurt?  What could they play with and still have a bit of educational impact?  What would let them be physical and get off my back???

Yes, I thought, beans.  They could sort them, count them, place then in size order, pour them, dump them, and manipulate them - sounds good right?

Well, as you saw in the video, things got a bit out of hand.  I didn't stop it because I knew I would have a lot to clean up, so why not just play it out? They were safe, and they were having fun.

I would like to add that I am still finding beans in corners, and under couches...  fun times!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Winter Storm Nemo - 2013

So... we got back-slapped with Winter Storm Nemo.

When I say "back-slapped" I suppose I could have said whipped, inundated, slammed, smacked or any other forceful descriptor.

Three feet.  We got 3' of snow in less than 24 hours.

The roads are closed.  Even if we could get our cars out, there is a total driving ban on all streets in the entire state.  The best thing I can say about this is that we didn't lose power.

Also, the shear beauty of the untouched clean, white, snow that blanketed everything was enough to put a content smile in anyone's soul.

 At least until they have to start shoveling.

Here are some photos from the early morning, then a couple once the sun came out so we could shovel a bit more:

Then, I started to shovel out:
And the kids were able to play in the tight, shovel width path,
and in the street for the first time.  There was nowhere to go, I wasn't worried...for them.

Perhaps I wasn't as prepared as I should have been on the glove/mitten front.  Perhaps next year I'll learn how to knit.

Don't you wish you were here?