Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tweet you.

I've officially started tweeting or using Twitter or being a tweep {you pick}.  You can find me {and follow me} at Twitter.com/amyeatlivelaugh.  

via FFFFound!
I'm learning much about the Twitterverse. Many refer to it as a micro-blog. Micro, indeed. I can scarcely say much of anything in 140 words, much less 140 characters. Brevity is clearly not as challenging for all -- the Twitterverse is a bevy of activity and, I've found, is an interesting way to communicate with others. And by "others" I mean, people I do not know in person. 

Twitter is like one huge social media cocktail party. One that never ends. You mix and mingle with people from different backgrounds and lifestyles. In real time. And while everyone is watching. You talk about everything from your new vacuum to your annoying in-laws to bloggy business and everything in between.

You find some people interesting and engaging. Others not so much. You are unsure of what conversations to join -- will they think it strange that I barged in on that conversation -- but feel silly letting the conversation just go on around you.

I'm still a wallflower in the back of the room clutching my drink and wondering which conversations I want to join. I have not yet found my tweeting-voice. It's incredibly intimidating and strangely fascinating all at the same time.

Do you tweet? Do you find yourself tweeting throughout the day or do you just allow a certain part of your day for engaging with your Tweeps? Do tell.  This newbie needs some tweet advice.

Oh, and I will most certainly tweet about this.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

T'is the reason for the season.

With Thanksgiving officially behind us, we collectively put our feet firmly in the starting gates and prepare for the sprint towards Christmas. It is inevitable -- the holiday rush. The hustle and bustle of shopping and decorating and parties and presents and food. Oh, the food! It is a wonderful, albeit busy, time of year. 

Every year we talk about slowing down and remembering the reason for the season. Our family makes every attempt to include Christ in our Christmas. But it does not happen without deliberate planning and forethought. 
via Simply the Sweet Life
Sunday was the first day in Advent. Our church has traditionally made advent chains for the youth. Our family enjoys reading the verse every night and allowing the excitement to build as the story is told -- the story of Christ's coming into the world -- and the anticipation -- not of gifts under a tree, but of Christ's return. 

When I realized we did not bring home the customary chain yesterday I searched the internet and found a myriad of possibilities. The chain can be made of plain copy paper, construction paper, or {I love this idea} wrapping paper scraps. You can decorate it with sticker or drawings or whatever suits your children's ages and abilities. 

To begin, cut {or let your children cut} 25 links. Number each link 1-25 and on each link write a different theme and scripture reference {suggestions below}. Remove one link each day during Advent, using the scripture for family devotions and the theme as a focus for prayer. It's a handy way to count off the days until Christmas and learn more about the real meaning of the holiday.

Christmas is...
1. A TIME OF SHARING - Read John 3:1-21
2. A TIME OF MEMORIES - Read Luke 1:68-79
3. A TIME FOR GREETINGS - Read Luke 1:39-55
4. A TIME FOR CHARITY - Read Matthew 25:31-40
5. A TIME FOR VISITING - Read Romans 15:1-7
6. A TIME OF HOPE - Read John 14:1-6
7. A TIME OF FAITH - Read Isaiah 55:6-11
8. A TIME OF PROMISE - Read Galatians 3:23-4:7
9. A TIME FOR CANDLES - Read John 11-14
10. A TIME FOR MUSIC - Read Psalm 150
11. A TIME FOR BEING IN TOUCH - Read John 15:1-11
12. A TIME OF RUSHING - Read Luke 10:38-42
13. A TIME FOR SINGING - Read Colossians 3:12-17
14. A TIME FOR FAMILY - Read Luke 1:5-80
15. A TIME FOR DECORATIONS - Read Psalm 118:19-29
16. A TIME FOR BAKING - Read John 6:32-40
17. A TIME FOR LOVE - Read 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
18. A TIME OF SOLITUDE - Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
19. A TIME FOR REMEMBERING - Read Isaiah 25:6-9
20. A TIME OF PEACE - Read Matthew 11:25-30
21. A HOLIDAY - Read Hebrews 4:9-16
22. A TIME TO GIVE THANKS - Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
23. A TIME OF BLESSING - Read Ephesians 3:14-21
24. A TIME FOR GIFTS - Read Ephesians 2:4-10
25. GOD WITH US - Read Luke 2:1-20

For younger children you may want to try this Nativity Chain that introduces each figure in the Nativity story.

Do you have any family traditions that help you focus on the reason for the season?  If so, please share!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The dress. On sale.


Every single Riley and Tilda and Kelsey and Grace and Dottie in the  line is on sale now!! 

Don't miss out on this opportunity to save 20% off the current line and up to 70% off all the sale pieces.  

I just purchased a red sateen Tilda at a deep-I-virtually-stalk-Lesley-and-constantly-blog-about-her discount!! 

But more on my gorgeous new Tilda later! Now click straight over to Lesley Evers and purchase one or two or three for YOU or someone you love!

xoxo


Friday, November 26, 2010

Traditions.

While I enjoy our family traditions and time away from the blogosphere, 
hop over to The Kludgy Mom and read about the traditions of others 
{and some hysterical holiday tales}. 


One of our family traditions will be shared on December 1st. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

via lulu.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Maybe fairies are real!

Months ago I shared a story about my darling little miss thang questioning whether fairies were real {required reading to set the stage}. 

Suffice to say, we have been teetering on the end of innocence for some time now. She questions absolutely everything, but yet, really wants to believe. It seems she is both yearning to be younger and more mature all at the same time. I suppose this is only the beginning of the madly confusing tween years.   

So today while I made pies and cookies in the kitchen, my duo was outside and clearly up to something. At first I honestly didn't care. There were not parked in front of the TV and no one was screaming. 

I didn't check on them for some time, but when I did I discovered this.


I often worry when I see the two colluding. 
Twins can gang up on you. And sometimes it's better to just let them be.  
The jumble around the tree made me curious, however, so I ventured closer. 


Little miss thang explained that she made a fairy trap.  

Of course.  
Though, I didn't know we trapped fairies. 
Aren't they magic? 
Wouldn't they just magically escape?

Well, this isn't just any fairy trap.  
There is a welcome sign and custom bedding and pillow.


What fairy wouldn't want to call it home?!
We left it all day and overnight.
In the morning, however, this is what we found. 


A lizard. 
A cute, baby lizard who clearly can't read the "faries only" sign. 

My little guy was ecstatic. 
Little miss thang not so much. 

I wish I'd thought to run outside late last night and at least sprinkle sparkles around the trap {irrefutable evidence that a fairy at least visited}. But I didn't. And she later dismantled the trap. So, after the ineffective fairy trap I was not sure where we stood on the "fairy" issue. Believer or non-believer? I just never know with her. 

Then tonight I was handed her letter to Santa {truly an entire post in and of itself} which lists {among many other things} "a real fairy". (emphasis hers)

Well, I certainly appreciate her persistence and resourcefulness -- if she can't trap one, she'll just ask Santa to bring her one. Much easier. 

And Santa has performed really, really well to date. Of course his biggest challenge to date was a vanity at age 3. Santa can make darling pink vanity, but a real fairy?!

*Sigh* 

So, if I don't come up with a very, very good explanation or a real fairy on Christmas morning, this may well be the end of both Santa, the fairies and me! 

Any fabulous advice for perpetuating the myths? I really need the innocence to linger just a bit longer. I've seen what lurks on the other side of the innocence and it is not near as enchanting as fairy traps!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Common Sense Holiday Shopping.

I previously discussed this great site which reviews and rates movies, books, games and apps. I love common sense media and look to them for guidance when I am unsure whether or not a movie, book or game is appropriate for my duo. I haven't always checked reviews before allowing my kids to watch a movie. Oh, no, I had to learn this lesson the hard way. 

Last year a friend and I left our four kids in the house alone watching a Halloween movie I recorded on the Disney Channel {we were just in the back yard so by "alone" I mean we didn't watch it with them}. Suffice to say the movie was much too gory for our children ages 5-8. Disney Channel, I learned, programs for a variety of ages and interests. I think this particular movie was better suited for the 12+ set. Oops! 

Nightmares ensued. Now I check before I hit play. 

Common sense indeed!

They've just added an iPhone app that makes it even easier to check up-to-the-minute reviews and ratings on games, movies and music on-the-go. You can even search by age and interest which makes gift giving for the cousins or nephews and nieces even easier than ever! Love that!



Monday, November 22, 2010

Tinsel Time.

It is fair to say -- I am not a crafty gal
I do, however, appreciate the ingenuity of of others
It seems they have a vision I simply do not. 
Or maybe it is more time. 
Or patience
Or some combination thereof.  

All I know for certain is this: I would have never conceived this, 
but this is one DIY I can replicate

And the result is beautifully retro 
{in a charming homespun way}.

I think it will be a great craft for the kids too!

See the full tutorial at Creature Comforts


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Soups on Sunday - Leftover Edition.

via SimplyRecipes
Thanksgiving is drawing near. Families are loading up the family wagon and traveling far and wide to spend time together. Mothers and grandmothers across the globe are shopping for the ingredients to their family's favorite holiday fare. Brothers and sisters are playing outdoors  and inevitably arguing about what to do with all their free holiday time. 

This is a wonderful time of the year and every family has their own traditions which make the time together special. The most common tradition, of course, is the centerpiece of the holiday -- turkey. 

And with turkey, comes leftovers. Some adore leftovers. Others curse them. I fall somewhere in between. I will tolerate leftovers so long as the gravy remains plentiful. After that point, however, I find everything dry and bland. Truly, there is just never enough gravy to outlast the leftovers. 

My solution is Turkey Soup. It is a great way to refashion the turkey into something completely different. And it is warm and soothing on a cold day. And can be easily used to feed a crowd. Or handed out in jars as company heads out the door {not that we are rushing you}!    

I located this recipe at SimplyRecipes, though in the past I've simply used my chicken noodle soup recipe as a guide. 

Making Stock
Remove all the usable turkey meat from the turkey carcass to save for making sandwiches later or for adding to the soup.

Break up the leftover bones of the carcass a bit, so they don't take up as much room in the pot. Put the leftover bones and skin into a large stock pot and cover with cold water by an inch. Add any drippings that weren't used to make gravy, and any giblets (except liver) that haven't been used already. Add a yellow onion that has been quartered, some chopped carrots, parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, celery tops, and some peppercorns.

Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to a bare simmer or just below a simmer.(If you would like to have a clear stock, do not bring the stock to a boil, but keep the stock below a simmer, as the more you simmer, the cloudier the stock will be.) Skim off any foamy crud that may float to the surface of the stock.

Add salt and pepper, about 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper. It sort of depends on how big your turkey is. You can always add salt to the soup later.

Cook for at least 4 hours, uncovered or partially uncovered (so the stock reduces), occassionally skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. 

Remove the bones and veggies and strain the stock, ideally through a very fine mesh strainer.

If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by cooking it longer, uncovered, at a bare simmer or just below a simmer, to make it more concentrated and easier to store.

Making the Turkey Soup
Prepare the turkey soup much as you would a chicken soup. With your stock already made, add chopped carrots, onions, and celery in equal parts. Add some parsley, a couple cloves of garlic. Add seasoning - poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram and/or a bouillion cube. Cook at a bare simmer until the vegetables are cooked through. (Or you can sauté the vegetables in a little fat rendered from the soup first, and add back to the soup right before serving.) You can add rice or noodles. Take some of the remaining turkey meat you reserved earlier, shred it into bite sized pieces and add to the soup. You may also want to add some chopped tomatoes, either fresh or canned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes a dash or two of Tabasco gives the soup a nice little kick.


I hope you all enjoy this holiday week. Travel safely and give thanks for all the many wonderful blessings of this world!

With thanks for you, 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Buxton or Bust!

My sweet little miss thang is positively convinced I need a Buxton Bag. She saw a commercial and was completely persuaded that this "bag" will improve my  life. Just like the lady on TV.  

I do often have a hard time finding my keys. I admit. And sometimes my phone - if I miss the little phone pocket and it falls into the abyss.

I hope it is abundantly clearly, given my now obvious taste in handbags, that I have absolutely no interest in a hideous, utilitarian, black, wouldn't-be-caught-dead-wearing-it-over-my-shoulder-organizing Buxton Bag. 

Lost keys notwithstanding. 

But darling little miss thang wants to get it for me for Christmas. She is ecstatic about finding the perfect gift. And I know that joy. I felt it when purchasing a cashmere wrap for a friend {for an incredible price I might add}. It is a joyous feeling knowing you gave someone you love a wonderful gift. And thus, the cliche -- the joy of giving!

Oh joy. 

So I am absolutely *mortified* at the thought that the hubs may most certainly will encourage this plan simply to see the look on my face when I open the "gift." He is a little sick that way. And I'm certain the $19.95 price will not dissuade him one bit. In fact, I fear he wants to see if I am willing to humble myself completely {as if motherhood hasn't already done that in 5000 other ways} or absolutely crush my sweet little miss thang.  

I must ask, dear readers: How far are you willing to go for your kids? Would you carry a Buxton Bag if it made your little thang happy? 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Turducken of Desserts.

Around Thanksgiving, much attention is given to how to not set your house on fire while deep frying a turkey, and to that abomination of a dish, the turducken. The Wall Street Journal recently examined "cherpumple" -- the turducken of Thanksgiving desserts.  

Cherpumple is a three-layer cake (yellow, spice, white) with a pie baked inside of each layer {cherry, pumpkin, apple}. Yes - you read that correctly -- three pies baked into three layers of cake and sealed with a cream cheese out layer {presumably to help defy the obvious physical challenge of keeping it all together}. 
Creator Charles Phoenix says, "It both intrigues and horrifies people." So how did he come up with this mad dish?
Phoenix said his family always took slivers of each pie and of cake at Thanksgiving, so he figured the natural progression of the dessert would just be to combine everything. The cake is made by fully baking a cherry, pumpkin and apple pie, then putting each in a cake pan, pouring cake batter over them, and baking them until the cake is done. 
Or you could just eat three pies and three cakes; gluttony does not discriminate.
Are you disgusted or intrigued?


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Everything I needed to know I learned from my children. Part II

I found this quote over at . . . It's Simple Love . . . and immediately thought of my little miss thang. 



Did she read this at a very young age and take it to heart?


Was she Eve Ensler in a past life?



I realize she has not yet driven a stick shift or slept alone under the stars. 

But she will.



She absolutely will. 


She certainly has the "saying no" part down pat. 

I absolutely adore her independent spirt and innate joie de vive. 

I just wish I had a little more of it myself!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Everything I needed to know I learned from my children.

My little guy likes to read. He is an exceptional reader and he has an exceptional desire to read. I absolutely adore this quality. I too adore reading and think that passion is what propelled me through years and years of higher education. So we encourage reading. We do not set a timer for our required 20 minutes each day as our teacher suggests. The timer would simply interrupt his reading. He always exceeds 20 minutes. 

Always. 

He reads after church.  

December 2009
 He reads on vacation by the pool.

Summer 2010 {goggles optional}

He reads in my office on a rainy weekend.

Fall 2010
He reads and reads and reads. I keep a fully stocked library to both inspire and quench his pedantic reading habit. As I said, I adore this quality and know it will serve him well in life.

So my heart broke today when our eye doctor proclaimed that my little guy is farsighted. No way, I shout {internally . . .  I think}. The very kind eye doctor went on to explain that it is hard for him to read or keep his place on the page because one eye is not keeping up with the other. 

Farsighted?! I thought only old people were farsighted. How can my little guy be farsighted?! Farsightedness doesn't even make sense to me {I've been nearsighted since the late - very late - 70s.  I get nearsightedness, but the thought of farsightedness conjures visions of bifocals in my head}.

At first I was simply crestfallen. But he loves to read, I thought. And he is a good reader. A very good reader. He does not complain of headaches as she suggested. He certainly does not have a problem reading or keeping his place on the page. Certainly she is wrong. 

But then I realized: this changes nothing. My little guy likes to read. He may need glasses but this is not a game changer. He simply needs reading glasses -- glasses only for reading. And he is ecstatic at the proposition of getting glasses. His own pair of glasses. And the eye doctor cannot be wrong -- this was not a subjective test -- there were computers and other fancy equipment involved in this diagnosis. 

So we hopped over to the local optical outlet and purchased a new pair of glasses. He picked out glasses with an orange racing stripe. Because orange is his favorite color. 

{And, as it turns out, when you are not completely blind like me, they actually make your glasses in under an hour. Never in my life have I had a pair of glasses made in under an hour. Never. My glasses require a special high-tech material so they do not look like coke bottles. I kid you not. And even with the special material it is still quite hideous. Elementary friends, please stop snickering}.   

So my little guy now wears reading glasses. I explained again on the way home that he did not need to wear them anywhere except at home. The doctor was not concerned about the amount of reading he does at school {so intermittent she said}. But he should wear them when reading for any length of time or when on the computer.

Tonight he got dressed for his cub scout meeting and came down . . . wearing his glasses.

You don't need to, I remind him.

I want to, he informs me.

Wants to. Wear glasses. It's me who doesn't want to wear glasses. Not him.

I do not know why I am continually amazed by my children and the amazing sense of self they seem to possess. Why is my self-consciousness {dating all the way back to the late, very late, 1970s} creeping into my head? My little guy looks darling in his glasses and he wants to wear them all the time. He has not a drop of insecurity in his 52 pound body. In fact, he is proud of his glasses.

Proud.

I'm proud too -- of him and the lessons he teaches me!!

Word of the week: pedantic


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Soups on Sunday -- late edition.

When my mother passed away last year a good friend brought over the most incredible vegetable - beef soup. It was full of vegetables and the meat was tender and not at all chewy. It was food for my soul. 

About four months later, when I actually began cooking for my own family again, I asked her for the recipe. She laughed, saying she just threw a bunch of stuff in a pot. 

What?! That incredible goodness was made on a whim?!

Yes, she confirmed. Nothing is precise or even recorded on paper.

Her whimsy made me feel inadequate in the kitchen. I cook from recipes. I am not in and of myself a good cook -- I am simply a person who can follow directions. 

Or was I belittling myself I wondered? 

Am I capable of more?

This reminded me a bit of the Karate Kid -- wax on, wax off -- and how he had no idea he was simply developing muscle memory for defensive blocks until Mr. Miyagi took away the waxing cloths. 

Aren't we also like that with cooking? We rely so heavily on recipes despite the fact that we have a cooking muscle memory. It is time to flex our culinary muscles and throw away the waxing cloth. 

It is indeed time to start winging it in the kitchen I mused. And as we know, I do soup. I do soup a lot. Certainly I've developed a soup muscle memory. After a rousing speech (yes, in my own head) I predicted, this soup was going to be my crane kick.

So here is the list of ingredients I used:
Boneless beef chuck roast cut into chunks (time consuming, yes, but so much better than stew meat)
Beef broth
1 can tomato sauce
1 zucchini 
1 package fresh okra
2 red potatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
10 mini carrots, chopped
1 can whole tomatoes
1 can pinto beans
1 can corn

My muscle memory told me to quickly sear the meat over medium/high heat. Then remove from pan and set aside. Saute onion in pan drippings (adding oil if needed).  Next, pour in a combination of water and beef broth to desired level and taste. Then, of course, add the veggies that take longer to cook: potatoes, carrots, celery, okra and zucchini. And the tomato sauce so the veggies soak in that flavor. Let it all simmer until the veggies are almost done. Then add the tomatoes, beans and corn. Finally, slide in the meat and accumulated juices to the pot and warm through. 

Hiiiiiii-yah! 

Soul food indeed -- exactly what I needed to eat and exactly what I needed to inspire me to put away the cookbooks and simply do what I know how to do!

What about you -- do you rely on recipes in the kitchen or do you make entire meals on a whim and a prayer?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Weekend.




Thursday, November 11, 2010

Handbags for Liz.

Darling Liz of a belle, a bean & a chicago dog, recently posted a request for help in finding a new handbag after years of carrying a diaper bag. Liz wants to bring sexy back! And I applaud anyone with children under the age of two who actually brushes her teeth daily.

Times with wee ones are hard. I remember the days. Days when I needed a backpack so I could still carry one twin on each hip. I didn't carry a handbag for years. Years! But then my duo started walking and using the potty properly and voila! As quickly as it all begins, it ends and you find yourself needing only a few extra crayons, tissues, band aids, notepads, books and perchance a random DSi or two. And so the handbag returns, albeit possibly larger then the pre-baby bag.

And let's be clear: we are discussing handbags, not purses. "Purse" is a verb and describes something you do with your lips {dictionary.com definition notwithstanding}. "Tote" is fine but generally refers to a utilitarian-type bag shaped somewhat like my reusable grocery bags. And "clutch" is appropriate if it is indeed clutched under your arm. Purse, however, is not a word a Southern lady uses to describe her handbag. "Handbag" is the the Coke of the bag world -- it applies to all shapes and sizes {and though I realize that translates better as Pop for  Yankees, I just can't bear to say it}. 

OK, back to the matter at hand: a new handbag Liz for Blissdom. Liz is a classic broad {albeit a Yankee by her own admission}. She is not a lady who should fall prey to the latest trends -- tassels and grommets and fringe. She needs a classic bag that will last for years and which can transition from outfit to outfit to outfit without looking out of place. A classic every day driver. The Suburban, or rather, let's think Mercedes SUV of handbags. 

Here are a few choices, in no particular order:
via Kate Spade

Kate Spade churns out classic styles every season. If you want a pop of color, she offers that as well.  You cannot go wrong with any of her line. I am particularly smitten with this 34th street printed treesh. It adds a little extra zing to every outfit. And the classic, lady-like shape balances the trendy print nicely. 

Leopard is a neutral these days and can truly be paired with anything {truly - I've had a leopard runner on my stairs for years and I swear it never gets old to me). 

And for those who still want their shoes to match their bag {though this is clearly an out-dated practice}, this bag will go nicely with black and brown. 

I love this bag and am officially adding it to my Christmas gift list {are you reading this hubs?}.

via Piperlime
The Beirn Jenna received a lot of hype preceding the release of the Sex and the City 2 movie. Every fashionista sat up and took notice of this utilitarian water snake line of bags. They are super lightweight {empty, of course} and virtually indestructible. 

I adore the snake skins and do think this golden number is quite a scene stealer! 

via Piperlime

Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Hillier is a classic bag by all accounts. It nods to the hobo influence of the times, but it's styling is simple, elegant, and yet, utilitarian as well. I love the optional shoulder strap and this cashew color is just different enough to make a statement without hitting anyone over the head. Absolute classic that would last for years and years and years. 
via Cole Haan
Cole Haan's Chelsea Small Print Denney Bag is only slightly edgier with it's grommet strung handles. It is still a classic shape updated with a neutral snake print. This is a year-round bag you could carry for three - five years without fail. 

via Tory Burch
No list would be complete without a Burch bag. I am not a HUGE logo fan. I tend towards discreet logos such as that gracing the Dena Hobo from Tory's line. This gorgeous worn leather will only get better with time. It nearly has a vintage feel.

I can remember my mother carrying something quite similar
{though it was most likely made of Naugahyde, not sumptuous leather}.

via BlueFly
And just in case you have a Mercedes budget, I offer the scamosciato by Prada.  The suede, the bitty logo, the perfectly crafted handle -- it is all perfection! Yummy love. A girl can dream!


I hope this helps focus your efforts. We did not discuss budget constraints {which we all have, especially this time of year}. I will say, however, that if you own one single handbag, make it a good one. You will feel good when you carry it and it will last you for years!! You do indeed get what you pay for. That said, there are a variety of shopping sites which offer quality items at deep discounts. I would scour those daily if I were on the hunt. 

Best of luck to you in your search. Do not be overwhelmed or daunted by the choices. Hone in on the unadorned classics and you cannot go wrong. 

And a final thought: the prettiest lady in the room is not the one who is the skinniest or the best dressed or the most exquisitely manicured, but the one who is the most comfortable in her own skin. A welcoming smile on your pretty face is all your really need to carry you along! 

Dear readers, do you have any additional suggestions or advice in searching for the perfect bag?




Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Magic carpet.


I am completely fascinated by people whose vision lies so far, far outside the proverbial box. I've previously shared my enchantment with dresses made entirely of balloons, the teeniest, tiniest pencil sculptures you've ever seen, and Mila the mom / photographer / set designer

My imagination simply pales in comparison. As do most, I suppose. 

Though my talents are more conventional (errrr, or lacking), I am endlessly attracted to ideas which require an openness of which I am simply not capable. I am absolutely amazed that some people pick up a box of plastic forks and see something other than disposable utensils. I've made a pasta necklace before, but really, I don't think that is pushing the envelope.  

But this, my friends, pushes the envelope in an entirely new and unexpected way:  temporary contemporary carpets by We Make Carpets

Without a sketch or plan (except for the chosen material) designers Stijn van der Vleuten and Marcia Nolte and visual artist Bob Waardenburg start working on the carpet, resulting in a concentrated process of laying the materials one by one untill the finished carpet appears.

Amazing. 








Monday, November 8, 2010

Who can argue with that?!



I hope you have a happy day!


Day Light Saving Time - My love-hate relationship.

I am not a morning girl. I prefer a 7 o'clock wake-up. And if left entirely to my own devices, I'm certain I would never again actually see 7 am. Of course, my life refuses to allow me the rest I deserve. The past few weeks have been especially trying because it has been just so darn dark when my alarm enters my lovely early-morning dreams and coaxes me out of my slumber. 

Pitch black at 6:30 am. 

My body thinks it should stay in bed until light seeps through the windows. At least until the sun has met the horizon. But such luxurious thoughts only delay the impending morning rush. So I slither from bed, brush my teeth, feed my duo, pack lunches and dash out the door to find this: 
Wow! Absolutely amazing {not my amateurish photo, but the sun rising over the water}. What an amazing way to start the day. Every day.

So as I bid adieu to day light saving time, I do so with a heavy heart. I do enjoy waking to daylight. It just feels right. But I admit, missing this view today on my way to take the kids to school felt like a steep price to pay. I'm not actually getting more sleep and now I miss the spectacular display each morning. 

Maybe I just need to learn to be a morning girl after all.  

Which do you prefer -- the long days provided by day light savings time or our short winter days?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Soups on Sunday - It's Chili!

Our weather has finally turned cool. The mornings are brisk and the afternoons are picture perfect. We've spent the entire weekend outside or inside watching football, but will all the doors open so we can enjoy these few golden hours of absolutely blissful weather. 

And because the temps have now officially dipped below 50 (albeit only in the wee hours), it is time for chili. I have made numerous chili recipes over the years. I've been to chili cook-offs. I've tasted friend's, who swear their is by far the best, chili. 

This is Texas folks -- we take chili seriously. 

We all do chili and all swear ours is the best. Well, you can believe me. Mine is the best. I do not rely on my own culinary prowess to achieve such a feat. Instead, I rely on a tried and true recipe from the venerable Silver Palate Cookbook

It is an unusual chili recipe. I'll give you that. It is more nuanced than most chili. It does not purport to hit you over the head with it's cayenne pepper kicker. Instead, it marries a variety of flavors to provide a wonderful and lively experience for the palate. 

Try it and let me know what you think.


Silver Palate Chili
Servings: 20 {can half it, but why not just invite friends over!?}
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound yellow onions, coarsely chopped
1 pound sweet Italian sausage removed from casings
4 pounds ground beef chuck
1 - 12 oz can tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup ground cumin
1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons salt or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
3 - 28 oz cans Italian plum tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 - 16 oz cans red kidney beans, drained
2 - 5.8 oz cans pitted black olives, drained 
Heat the olive oil in a very large pot. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring  occasionally unitl wilted, about 10-15 minutes. Add the sausage and ground chuck; cook overmedium-high heat, stirring until the meats are well browned. Spoon off  any excess fat and discard. 
Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, cumin, chili powder, mustard, basil, oregano, salt  and pepper. Add the tomatoes, wine, lemon juice, dill, parsley and kidney  beans. Stir well and simmer uncovered for another 15-20 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. Add olives and simmer for 5 more minutes to  heat through. Serve immediately {preferably with warm corn bread}!
Enjoy -- the chili and this gorgeous fall weather!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes.

photo credit
Over the next few days Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! will receive a complete, and long overdue, makeover by Lindsey at Sweet Simplicity Designs

I'll return soon with a new look and lots of new things to share!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Parenting theories gone awry.

image source

Yesterday a friend, and new mom, sent me a piece from The Daily Beast titled The Secret Celebrity Parenting Craze. The article written by Gina Piccalo discusses a new {or, rather new to me} parenting style called RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers, pronounced wry) which has a devoted celebrity following.


RIE {and I'm quoting here for fear of misrepresenting and / or displaying bias} "eschews the conventions of American infancy from baby strollers, high chairs and battery-operated toys to excessive praise, forced sharing, and even lullabies. The end result, advocates say, is not just more competent and self-aware children, but a more peaceful world."

RIE educators help parents show respect for the baby's experience. Babies whose parents "do RIE" do not spend time on their tummies. REI parents would not place their babies in positions from which they cannot independently escape. Respect. 

RIE honors the baby's "struggle". So if the baby is crying, the baby is not immediately snatched up and hushed with a loving lullaby. The baby is allowed to release the tension and asked why he or she is crying. Sudden actions and loud sounds are narrated. "Baby, I am going to pick you up now. You seem upset." Oh, and please, please don't be so disrespectful as to rock a baby to sleep while singing a lullaby {the bias may now be creeping into my writing}.

Seriously?!

Are people so insecure in their parenting that they need to pay "educators" to tell them not to worry so much?! I do agree with the group's unofficial credo -- "do less, observe more" -- in most situations. I may not run to a child who is bonked herself on the head with a block if it will only take a second for the shock to wear off. But, if a child is crying because he likely needs a diaper change, well, I'm not going to let the little guy sit there "and work out the tension." Parenting should involve not just respect but common sense!

The popularity of this parenting style is likely a result or or reaction to the parenting pendulum having swung too far in the direction of hyper-stimulation and over-scheduling. In the past decade there has simply been too much pressure to make sure little Janie can read, create artful masterpieces, play a violin concerto, dance and speak three languages by age 4. I welcome the antidote to that movement, but think RIE takes it a tad too far.

I do believe, however, that less is often more when raising kids. Kids need to play outside more and video games less. Kids need to play with blocks and stare out the window on long drives. Kids do not need to attend music lessons at 5 months of age. And haven't we all experienced buying a child a fancy new toy only to have him ignore the toy and play with the box?! I see the point in that -- don't buy the fancy over-stimulating toy and opt instead for simple play things which allows the child to explore and be creative. I am a mom who appreciates and encourages kids' creativity. But do we need a whole school of thought dedicated to that notion?

As I've said before, I pick and choose the best of many parenting theories and apply what makes sense to me and my family. I do not believe one size fits all or even most. Everything works sometimes, nothing always works. Furthermore, every child is different. Believe me, as a mother of twins, I say this confidently. They simply arrive wired differently. What works for one does not necessarily work for another. Talking calmly to My Little Guy worked when he was an infant and still does today. Little Miss Thang, however, does not now nor did she ever respond well to me simply respecting her "inner struggle." There is little about my sweet girl that happens quietly or with hushed voices. I respect her nonetheless.

My point is this {yes, I have a point}: We need to encourage and support other parents, not make them feel insecure or unworthy. So much of parenting seems to be a reaction to what other parents are doing. And we seem to constantly reinvent the parenting wheel though I'm not convinced it rolls any better.  Eight years ago Baby Einstein was the new big thing. Now, we aren't allowed to sing?!

Maybe, just maybe, we'd be better with all things in moderation. Maybe we can apply some good ole fashion common sense to the parenting puzzle and stop one-upping every other parent on the block with our parenting prowess.

So, yes, I'm now starting a online parenting class called DWFR (Do What Feels Right, pronounced DWFR).

Classes are incredibly exclusive.

Space is limited.

There is no waiting list because we don't do waiting lists.  Just keep trying back.

If you have to ask about the cost you clearly cannot afford it.

Angie and Brad {or rather their legion of nannies} have been followers for years.

If you are interested in joining the DWFR movement please join me by leaving a DWFR worthy comment below!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Soups on Sunday - Monday Edition + a pic


Yes, it is Monday and I am nonetheless offering Soups on Sunday. You all understand. Yesterday was a bevy of excitement around here -- costumes, candy, pumpkins, spider webs, candy, friends, balloons, more candy, and finally, sugar-high induced sleep.

So I shamelessly offer soup on Monday. Because I love soup and soup is easy! And I need a little easy this morning. And this is truly a weeknight soup -- only a 30 minute simmer period required (and honestly, you could probably stop at 20 if that's all the time you have)!

So wipe off the cob webs, eat a piece of the kids' candy and prepare soup on Monday!

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (about 3 small)
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 medium)
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • Grated Parmesan, optional

Directions

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion and carrot, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini, diced tomatoes, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Top each serving with grated Parmesan, if desired.
image and recipe via Food Network.

And because you know I can't resist, I'll shamelessly add a Halloween picture of my darling duo.

And I realize I stole this painted pumpkin idea from someone here in the blogosphere! Thank you, thank you, thank you! They were quite a hit and it really did allow the kids to be more involved (because I still refuse to allow them to wield sharp battery operated knives - for all our sakes). 

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