Monday, January 31, 2011

derbies and paintings...all in a saturday's work!

This weekend buzzed by rather quickly.  Between a basketball game, derby car races, painting, knitting, and sewing, it's no wonder it went so fast!  The sweet spot in the middle of all of it was that every single person in this household got to exercise some sort of creative expression!  So fun!

working on the derby

jman and his derby

get ready

best use of flames

Joshua had his derby car races on Saturday.  I'm not a last minute kind of person, but my sweet husband tends to roll that way.  I was a wee bit nervous as I saw what still needed to be done the night before the races, but somehow the boys pulled it together and created a red hot rod recognized for "the best use of flames!"

painting together

eg's painting

We also ended the weekend with two new masterpieces to hang in our house.  Emma G is our little artiste.  I love nurturing that talent in her, but sometimes I forget.  I was so glad that Jeremy quickly got out the paints and some canvas for her when she expressed that she wanted to paint.  It was so cute seeing the two of them working together on their paintings.  Sunday, behind closed doors, Emma G cleaned her room and hung it on her wall.  She was so proud of her work.  And I absolutely love her painting!

tree

sing you a song
jeremy's painting

My weekend creativity involved knitting needles, yarn, and a sewing machine, but I can't show you just yet!  Soon...very, very soon...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

garden fresh tomato bisque

tomato soup

I was quite surprised recently when I went searching on the internet for tomato soup using fresh tomatoes.  I'm sure those recipes exist, but I couldn't find any of them.  So, I decided to try to make it on my own.  This recipe is the second go around.  The first time I tried making it without adding any sweetener.  It was a bad idea.  You need a sweetener to take away the acidity from the tomatoes.  I also didn't add the cream the first time.  I like the creamy soup version better. 

Ingredients

Around 10 tomatoes (I used 4 Hot House and 5 plum tomatoes)
1 onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon agave
1 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
salt and pepper to taste
cornstarch, optional

Directions

Use your preferred method for peeling tomatoes.  I chose to freeze them overnight and set them out to thaw in the morning.  The skin peels off incredibly easy after they have thawed.  In a pot, saute onion in olive oil.  Add garlic and saute a couple more minutes.  Add peeled tomatoes and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Then, blend soup either with an immersion blender or in batches in blender.  Return to pot.  Add agave, cream, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  If you like your soup thicker, take out a cup of soup and mix it with a tablespoon of cornstarch.  Return to pot and simmer an additional 10 minutes.

This was a perfect amount for our family of four.  I served it with grilled cheese sandwiches made with homemade ciabatta bread and it was delish!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

little helper

This could have easily been a part of my 10 Things list.  I love it when Miss Emma G pulls out the little apron, puts it on, and asks how she can help me in the kitchen.  Not only is she helping out of her own choosing (and not my prodding), but she gains satisfaction in telling everyone that she cooked the food!

little helper

Friday, January 28, 2011

the hair dryer

I'm thinking I should have dedicated this whole week to modern conveniences (first the phone and now...) but actually this post is not about me receiving a new hair dryer (which I did not).  It's about a whole lot more.

calm

I can't remember if I've ranted here before about how much I dislike the morning routine.  I peel myself out of bed somewhere between the times of 6:00 to 6:25.  By 6:30 I have the lovely task of getting my kids out of bed.  The alarm clock worked well for a while, but snoozing was quickly figured out and now my (gentle) prodding is needed to actually emerge from the warmth of bed. With a 7:30 bedtime, I guess I expect 11 hours of sleep to be enough to jump out excitedly, ready for a new day.  It is not.

Unfortunately, the morning routine frequently brings out my not-so-fine mama moments.  It is not uncommon, in my desperation, for me to call in the back-up to rescue me (or maybe it's the kids) from the situation at hand. 

hair blowing

So how does a hair dryer relate to this story?  Well, I am very much a task oriented person.  I see my job in the morning as getting my kids to school on time.  What I often fail to see is their needs.  I think we don't have time for anything extra.  It's eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, put shoes on.  Task, task, task.  Miss Emma rebels most against this, causing me to try, with great strength, to suppress my frustration.

This past week Jeremy tried the hair dryer, and it worked wonders.  I see the hair dyer as just something to dry my hair after a shower, but did you know it's a great tool for warming cold skin and clothes before putting them on?  Oh, yes.  It works wonders.

in the face 
Yesterday morning Jeremy was unavailable to tend to Emma G's hair dryer needs, so I thought I would give it a shot.  And you know what?  It worked.  And we connected while I got her ready.  And she still got to school on time even though we did an "extra."

After I walk the kids to school, I often come home and spend some time with God.  It usually starts with either, "Thank you for helping me have patience this morning," or a plea, "God, please increase my patience!"  I can't despise life's everyday activities, because I realize He is using the everyday to answer my prayers and bring me closer to Him...

By the way, these photos depict a fun, after school photo shoot NOT what I've described above. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

10 things

I do believe when you look through your photo library and find yourself in the midst of special moments that make you smile, that it's time for a 10 things list.  I love to see what's bringing me joy right now.

hearing emma g read...it's amazing to hear her sounding out the words on the page (or screen...we've been using starfall online phonics books for some of her reading)
eg reading

friday morning coffee dates with the love of my life
coffee date

my little reminder of winter nights in africa...dark chocolate and rooibos tea
anyone tried ghirardelli dark chocolate with sea salt and almond bits?  to.die.for.
dark chocolate

expanding my bread repertoire to now include my newest favorite, english muffins...next on the list, bagels! 
english muffins

the planning and creating that is going into joshua's pinewood derby 
pinewood derby in progress

the fact that emma g has learned to tie her shoes and asks everyone in the house if she can tie their shoes
shoes

treasured moments of creative expression
creative expression

digging up recipes I haven't made in a while...greek chicken pitas, yum!  (whole wheat pita bread recipe found in artisan breads every day)
greek chicken pita

productive days...
a productive day

a quiet house to crank up the likes of mumford & sons
quiet house

What makes YOU smile these days?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

my tuscan landscape

Monday I went with a group of ladies to GNosh to celebrate a friend's birthday.  This was the second time I've gone (remember Golden Streets?) in the last 2 months.  Like last time, it was a blast.  We brought our birthday spread...bread, meat, cheese, veggies, chocolate, and wine and left with our very own Tuscan Landscape. 

painting at gnosh

This painting was much harder than Golden Streets, but it was great to learn different techniques.  It's really quite amazing how much you can learn about yourself when you do something that is out of your comfort zone.  I love the creative aspect, but painting does not come easy for me.  Sometimes I feel like an interesting combination...or maybe it's that I'm slowly tapping into my right brain more and more.  I think right now I'm teetering on both sides. 

flowers

My left side likes the exact instructions (although I tell myself it's because I want to learn and not because I have to follow directions exactly).  However, my right side loves a painting with lines that are uneven and messy, a seemingly blur that looks like a masterpiece.

homes

And then there's the perfectionist side of me.  I want that messy painting to look perfect, in my eyes, at least.  But what is perfect?  I love that art is so subjective.  It's the beauty of it, really.  It reflects personality, individuality, and creative expression. 

my tuscan landscape 

I encourage you to today to try a creative outlet that is totally out of your comfort zone.  Use it to learn more about yourself.  You might even try it with a group of friends!  The first thing you'll want to do is compare.  Stop.  Let go of your inhibitions.  And have fun creating!

"It took me four years to paint like Raphael but a lifetime to paint like a child."  Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

cardboard mailbox for your valentine's

While the game was going Sunday afternoon, Miss Emma and I set out to do a little Valentine's crafting.  We made cardboard mailboxes to hold all the Valentine's mail we'll be expecting in the next several weeks. :)  Here's how we turned cereal boxes into a work of Valentine art!

my mailbox

Supplies

cereal boxes

a cardboard box...as you can see, we used cereal boxes
paper
art supplies
2 pieces of 7" elastic string
2 buttons
hot glue gun

Directions

1.  Prep your boxes by taping down any open sides.

taped down

2.  Turn your box sideways, and cut along the top and sides (not the bottom) to create a flap.

mailbox flap

3.  Cut a slit in the top of the box.  For my cereal box, I marked 3" in from each side and 3/4" and 1 1/4" from the top.  Connect all your marks together using a ruler and cut your slit.

slit

4.  Cut paper pieces to fit all sides (except the back) of your box.

cutting paper

5.  Give your kids the paper to decorate using whatever mediums they want.  We used markers, stamps, ribbon, and cut out cloth hearts.  Start warming up the hot glue gun.

art supplies

6.  After they have all their paper decorated, it's time for the hot glue!  Hot glue all the paper to the box.  I tried glue sticks and Elmer's glue but it didn't work so well.  The hot glue worked the best.  Hot glue 2 buttons to the top.

button

7.  Hot glue the 2 strings inside the flap at the top.  These are to keep the flap closed after the mailbox has been checked for letters.  I really just used my best guess as to where they should go in relation to the buttons.

glued elastic string

8.  Hang on your door (or to the side).  I used thumb tacks to hang them up.  Wait anxiously for mail to start arriving!

eg's mailbox

open mailbox

A word of advice...I would recommend doing all the prep work before calling the kids to the table.  It took me longer than I expected, and Emma G was "so bored."  When I finally had the paper cut, she said, "Now this is what I'm talking about!"

Another mailbox idea...the Duck Tape Valentine Box from Michael's.

Monday, January 24, 2011

my camera phone

The title of this post is inspired by one of my favorite episodes from Flight of the Conchords.  If you've never watched them before, then I highly recommend finding some YouTube videos or checking out their TV series.  Brett and Jemaine are a hilarious comedy, music duo from Australia New Zealand.  Somewhere in the beginning of Season 1, Bret gives Jemaine a camera phone which consists of a camera and a phone duct taped together.  As I think of my new (to me) camera phone, I laugh and remember THAT camera phone.

the eyes

Here's how I came upon my new camera phone...

Remember how I said we had a great time on our recent hotel stay?  Well, we most certainly did!  What I didn't say was how Jeremy jumped into the pool with my phone in his pocket.  It wasn't discovered until we were both relaxing in the hot tub.  His eyes went wide and he said, "Uh oh," as he pulled it out of his pocket.  Now I'm not someone who becomes attached to my phone.  For me, it is simply a modern convenience that proves very useful, not something I use to chit chat on frequently (I prefer face to face).  However, everyone needs a phone, right?

tired jman

With my phone (temporarily) out of commission, we decided I would start using the iPhone my father-in-law gave us which means I have joined the ranks of every other Price family member (except maybe my sister-in-law).

I'm someone who likes loves to take photos.  I take a lot of photos, so it's not a surprise that my favorite app so far is Hipstamatic.  I love how it looks like an old film camera.  I love how it makes the sound that indicates the flash is warming up.  I love the effects it gives my photos.  And I love how it invokes conversation with my kids about how we used to use film cameras.

guitar

The old phone is working now, but there's no going back.  Did I say I'm not someone who becomes attached to her phone?  That must have been someone else, because I'm quickly becoming attached to my new camera phone...

All photos taken using the Hipstamatic app.

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