Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Food: A Chicken Favorite

There's a few go to recipes I have that are my favorites to make when I just can't pull it together to try something new. One of them is this Chicken Vesuvio, that I think is a nice wholesome family meal. I usually serve this with a nice loaf of artisan bread and an easy side. This time I made green beans sauteed with garlic. This dish is yummy and fairly easy. My kids will eat the chicken and potato, still working on getting them to eat the day hopefully.

Chicken Vesuvio

1 4 1/2-pound chicken, quartered, backbone removed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large russet potatoes (about 14 ounces each), peeled, each cut into 6 pieces)

6 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon (or more) dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in large ovenproof pot over high heat. Add potatoes and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer potatoes to bowl.

  4. Add chicken to same pot and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.
    Add garlic cloves and dried crushed red pepper and saute 2 minutes.
  5. Return potatoes, stock and wine to pot. Return to medium-high heat and bring to boil.

  6. Cover pot tightly; transfer to oven and bake until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
  7. Add peas to pot; cover and bake 5 minutes longer.
  8. Transfer chicken,potatoes to platter and pour sauce over.
  9. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired, and serve.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Artful Thursday: Pretty Little Vase, A Tutorial

Here we go again, Artful Thursday. My how that day comes quickly. I'm happy to say I actually got something done today. Yay for me! I'm especially pleased because I used some supplies I'd been hanging on to for quite awhile. So here goes...

I started with this pretty little yellow vase that has an antique Victorian design. (This is a newer item that I got not too long ago from Michael's) What I pulled from my stash is the following:

  • vintage seam binding

  • a hair comb I made about 5 yrs ago, I disassembled for the crystals and fresh water pearls
  • a jar of vintage buttons (1 of many)

  • German glass glitter

  • vintage kite string

  • vintage foliage leaves

Getting started:

  1. I covered the foliage with glass glitter. I did this using a paintbrush, I brushed the leaves with glue then sprinkled with the glass glitter

  2. I disassembled the hair comb, setting aside a few pieces of crystal leaves and fresh water pearl stamens on gold beading wire.

  3. I then wrapped the leaves, pearls and crystals around the neck of the vase using glue dots to adhere them in place.

  4. Pressing my seam binding first, I tied 2 pieces around the vase, making a bow. I often get lazy and don't press my seam binding, regretting it later when the creases fuss up my bows So I'm pretty happy I took the extra step this time.

  5. I threaded a vintage rhinestone button with vintage kite string.

  6. I placed a glue dot on the back of the button.

  7. I tied the string around the vase, adhereing the button to the bow

  8. And finally, once all this was done I fussed with it all a bit to get everything in place and trimmed the seam binding to the length I wanted it.

There you are, a pretty little vase to dress up a corner in your home or a sweet gift for a friend. You can find this one in my etsy shop.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What We Like Wednesday: Resale Toys and Dado Squares

I recently traded in some toys to one of those resale toy shops where you can either get 40% cash back or 50% in trade (these percentages differ from shop to shop). So I opted for the trade. There are several of these shops near us but I especially love Toy Safari, they have a great variety on new and used toys to choose from. The best deal about these resale shop is getting to unload some of your old things that have lost everyone's interest for something new and exciting. And what do you know, it's also one more way to live a greener life, reuse and recycle those toys. My kids don't care if the toys have been previously loved, they are happy to play with toys that are new to them and I'm happy to help keep toys out of our landfills.

With that said, this time around I chose these great Dado Squares. The boys have really enjoyed playing with these. They've built all sorts of structures, including a multi-layered parking garage for their trains. It has been fun watching them at work with these, as they encourage them to explore their imagination and creativity.

So, if you've got a bunch of toys laying around your house that your kids too have lost interest in or have outgrown, I encourage you to find your local resale toy store. It's a win win situation for everyone and you just might find yourself a great set of Dado Squares.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Food

A special night for me, another night of daddy's cooking...that means a night off for me. Yay! Not that I don't enjoy cooking, because I do. It's just cooking on top of running a household with 3 boys is sometimes exhausting so it's always nice to have a break. The other fun thing about Max cooking is that we have totally different culinary styles so it's always fun to see what he's going to dish out. Funny the way that is, we could have the same exact ingredients but make entirely different dishes. We have this long running competition (totally harmless yet amusing) regarding who's the better cook.

So tonight Max made this delectable dinner that we all enjoyed. Fun cheese toasts really for the kids amusement. Delicious rib eye steaks that were slightly overcooked for my taste, as I love mine medium rare and these were medium (insert wink here). We just love to razz each other about our food prep ;) He topped the steaks with fresh basil which made for a delicious combination and served these with baked sweet potato.

The next time you grill up a steak, consider topping it with some fresh basil. It's absolutely yummy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Artful Thursday - "Happy Faces Bloom There"

It's that time again...Artful Thursday. This day seems to be creeping up on me each week. The morning arrives, I start to panic think about my project but can't get started because the first thing I do on Thursday mornings is volunteer at Aidan's motor skills class. Today, I rushed home and got started, but unfortunately didn't get it finished.

I'll share what I started. Today I worked on this mixed media collage. I started with an 8 x 10 canvas that I dry brushed with raw umber acrylic paint. I then glued vintage sheet music using Modge Podge. Using acrylic paints, I painted cherry blossom branches. I then glued a scrap of embroidered vintage linen and an image of a bird that I cut out from a vintage children's book. At this point, I ran out of steam . It's a good start though and I'm happy with it thus far. Feels good to be pulling out the stash, brushing off the dust, and working with it. A nice sense of creative productivity, exactly what I was hoping for when I took on the Artful Thursday challenge.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What We Like Wednesdays: Grappling the Complex With Simple Reading Fun

Having children has meant learning lots of new practices, the learning curve hasn't always been a smooth one. But, if there's one thing I can confidently say I got right, it's that I've taught my boys the joy of reading. From as far back as I can remember, I have always loved books. Reading a good book can always put a smile on my face. I wanted to make sure that my boys would experience this same bliss, for this reason, I have read to them religiously. Whether it be bed time or just some downtime during the day, we read. We make a weekly visit to the library so imagine, we read lots of books. Most recently we've read two books that we really enjoyed.

Round Like a Ball by Lisa Campbell Ernst. This book has fun diecut pages that leaves the boys guessing to the end, when they get to fold out a brilliant illustration of the earth. I absolutely love this books message of preserving our earth. Our household has been making an effort to live green in an effort to honor and protect our earth so this book is an excellent source to continue to support this message.

Is There Really a Human Race by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell, is another book we recently read and enjoyed. It's a sweet story that has us looking at humanity, and sends the message, " be kind and have acceptance". My boys love this book fun rhythmic tempo, I love it because it reinforces what I aspire to teach my kids.

Both these books address complex ideas in a fun way that children can enjoy while still addressing the messages we hope to teach our children. Definitely two books we'll be adding to our family's favorites.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year! & Valentine's Day Too!

We're celebrating here. It's only noon and it's been a fun day already. The boys gave me a bouquet of tulips this morning, my favorite, daddy made a yummy breakfast with bacon, another one of my favorites. We phoned grandma and grandpa to wish them "Gong Hoy Fat Choy" and then we made these fun Chinese new years dragons. The boys had fun with these and luckily for me not too much glitter got spilled. I sure hate cleaning up spilled glitter. We'll be spending the rest of the day leisurely relaxing and finish it off with a nice dinner.

Here's wishing you all a Happy Chinese New Year and a Happy Valentine's Day too!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Food: Sprinkles Make All The Difference

I hosted a "pamper night out" tonight for some moms from my twin club. 16 twin moms (actually I think there was 1 triplet mom) met at a nail spa to be pampered with pedicures while sipping champagne, nibbling on light appetizers and yummy dessert including these cute little 2 bite cupcakes. I wish I could say I made these but I didn't. I've bought these several times for different events not only because they're delicious but because they're sooo cute. Really I think it's the sprinkles that make them so appealing. If you remove those sprinkles, then they're just a plain ol' cupcake. Ever since I came across these, now when I make my own cupcakes, I make sure to add sprinkles, it makes a huge difference in their presentation. Those sprinkles just make a cupcake extra special, don't you think so?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Artful Thursday: An Art Full Day For The Kids

Today is Artful Thursday, I've taken on the Julie Collings challenge. However, I'm sad to say I didn't meet that challenge today (sigh). I had an art full day preparing for Aidan's kindergartner valentine party and preparing valentines for all 3 kids. Have to say, I'm positive that's not what Julie had in mind for Artful Thursdays. I really had in mind to dive into some vintage children's books I have and do some collage book markers. It just didn't happen, between assembling 84 valentine cards, yes that's right...I said 84, that's how many classmates my 3 boys have combined together, and 4 gifts for teachers, AND, preparing supplies for 3 separate valentine craft projects for 23 kids, Aidan's class (yes cutting hundreds of strips of paper, 23 posterboard hearts, hundreds of tissue squares, cutting ribbon and making a sample of each project) there just wasn't anytime left to make those book markers. Sadly, it will have to wait for next week.
On another note, I'm thankful for the mom in Aidan's class who agreed to bring in an ice cream cake and relieved me from baking cupcakes because I'd still be baking right now at 11:41 pm.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What We Like Wednesday: Ladybug Game

We got a new board game in the house, The Lady Bug Game. Aidan and Miles really enjoy playing board games, Liam will play with lots of redirecting but doesn't seem to enjoy it as much. I'm hoping in time they will all enjoy them just makes for a more successful game time.

We've been exploring new board games that everyone can play. I like this game because it promotes counting for the little ones and you can take it one step further, doing math (addition and subtraction) with the aphids earned or lost for your older child. The boys love the characters, cards, and moving past those bullying ants. A game that reinforces counting, math and is fun for all is definitely a game that makes it on our hit list.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Marketing Gets Them Early

My boys are obsessed with Thomas and Friends. They sleep, eat, and breathe while dreaming, talking and thinking about Thomas. Liam, is typically a pretty loud and rambunctious kid so, when he's in his room and it's quiet I usually wonder what he might be up to. This time, when I peeked in I found him laying on his bed studying the Thomas catalog/brochure that comes in the package with each train. My boys seem to think this brochure is almost as exciting as the train itself. How clever of them to include one of these with each train. Just another way to get them wanting more. Here's Liam at 3 yrs old planning for his next purchase ...or should I say mommy's next purchase.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Primal Voice

The unexpected surprise that just fascinates me occurred few weeks ago and has been on my mind since then. Not that my poor boy was being tormented to the point of screaming and yelling but the fact that he choose to yell in Spanish. Aidan has refused to speak Spanish for quite sometime. I even question how much he knows. Although he was spoken to in Spanish when he was an infant up until maybe the age of 2, it was around that time that he started saying "no Spanish mommy" . I gave up the Spanish...I could come up with all sorts of reasons why I did this, but ultimately the honest truth was just plain laziness. It seemed like such an effort and he seemed so disinterested that I just let it go. So whats fascinating about this you ask? Well, it's just that in a time of desperation, in his need to protect himself when someone was hurting him (not intentionally, strips and stitches were painfully being removed from his finger injury) Aidan shouted in Spanish. It caught me by surprise, I think it caught us all by surprise, his doctor even commented, "Spanish?". At that moment, I realized he has learned something...deep down in the depths of his brain, somewhere in his hind brain where is basic instincts are stored, he has stored his primal language, Spanish. So although it's not his primary language, after this ordeal I believe Spanish his primal language.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Food : Mmm Yummy and Easy Granola

I'm always looking for wholesome breakfast food ideas for the boys. Something that's good for them while being easy and quick to prepare. One of my favorite food magazines, Everyday Food, has this great Maple-Nut Granola recipe in the Jan/Feb issue. This recipe is so easy to prepare and healthy too. I think it's also safe to say it's much cheaper to prepare than buying granola off the shelf, especially if you're buying organic. Prep time must have been less than 10 that's what I call quick.

Measure everything out.

Mix it all in one bowl.

Pour out on rimmed baking sheet
Bake, cool and Whaa Lhaa perfect granola. We'll be eating this over plain or vanilla yogurt with bananas and blueberries. I bet this would be good with raisins too. The boys get their morning protein, something I'm always having a hard time getting in but, have found it's so important for them. They are so much more cooperative and agreeable during morning prep after a good breakfast. This is one I'm sure we'll add as a staple for morning breakfasts.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Artful Thursdays: Buttons of Love, a Valentine Ornament

I've been inspired by Julie Collings and her wonderful blog the adventures of bluegirlxo and am ready to take on her Artful Thursdays challenge. She's come up with this fabulous idea to pick a project every Thursday, using the treasures we've collected and finally use them. As many artists, I've managed to hoard collect lots of treasures with art projects in mind but never find the time to do them. This challenge will force me to make the time and work on it while meeting one of my goals for 2010, which was to focus more time on creative self-expression. My dear hubby will be happy too, as this may lead to some de-cluttering that he is always hopeful for.

So let me present to you my first project with tutorial for Artful Thursdays,

Buttons of Love

List of supplies I started with:
1. an oval shaped paper mache ornament left over from a previous project
2. vintage sheet music, cardboard left over from some packaging, ivory cardstock
3. one of my many jars of buttons
4. star dust glitter
5. a tiny piece of satin pink ribbon and vintage trim
6. red ink pad
7. heart punch by marvy
8. silver pipe cleaner
9. foam square adhesives and craft glue

First step was to glue the sheet music to the thin cardboard then punchout a heart from it. Then I inked the heart with red ink.

I then applied glue to edges of heart and oval ornament and rolled it through the glitter.

I trimmed and glued a piece of lace trim to the top of the oval, sorted through my buttons (deciding on an ivory, pink, and red color pallette), glued buttons covering the front of the oval.

I printed out "LOVE" on the ivory cardstock, trimmed it into a strip, followed with a second strip a bit longer with "v" cut outs on each end. I inked both pieces in red, adhered "Love" to the strip with foam squares, making a small banner. I attached this banner to the heart using more foam squares to give the piece some dimension.

I made a small hole on each side of the ornament at inserted silver pipe cleaner to make the hanger.

I attached the heart to the buttons with foam adhesive, tied the pink satin ribbon in a bow on the pipe cleaner, heat treated the ends of the ribbon to keep from fraying and Whaaa Lhaaa! You now have a very cottage chic valentine ornament to spruce up some small corner of your home or a perfect gift for a friend.

You can find this one in my etsy shop.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Order to this Blog & What We Like Wednesdays: learning fun and designer shoes

I've been thinking a lot about this blog and wanting to bring some order to it. I'm planning to continue to write about the everyday going ons that seem notable and worthy of recording in order to capture our life story, but I would also like to have some more predictable topics to write about. As I've been trying to bring a little more order to my family's life, more organization to our home, I thought it would also make sense to bring some order to this blog. Our days aren't always news worthy, some days do just go by completing the mundane tasks of daily living so at least, if nothing more I could always look forward to some set topics to write about. It would help me better organize my thoughts and hopefully make for some more interesting reading..who knows, time will tell.

So with that said, today is the inception of "What We Like Wednesdays" .

A new item in our house that Aidan absolutely loves (at least for the moment, you know how fickle kids can be) is this Math Magic Multiplication. He's recently taken an interest in multiplication and has been constantly asking "whats __x__?" And of course with my love for numbers I've been absolutely loving this, just kidding. Those who know me well know that I despise math so Aidan's constant math quiz has actually been a bit wearing. So, with this new math magic board, that we've had for just a few days, the questions have stopped, instead he's now telling me what ___x___ is. I don't mind this so much, as a matter of fact I enjoy it, because I know he's actually learning something. As a result of this new toy, Aidan now knows quite a bit of his multiplication table and I'm certain in no time he'll have mastered his multiplication.

Something else, all three of the boys are obsessed with are Geox shoes. They all seem to think they are the coolest thing. They strut around and announce to each other "I've got my Geox on" I'm not sure how or when this started but what I do know is when it's time to go buy new shoes they request these. Let me remind you the twins are 3 yrs old. When did they decide they have to have Geox? They just may be following in their older brother's footsteps but as I recall, Aidan also started requesting these at around the same age and by age 4 he was requesting the Geox with the light up heels. We did end up getting him those Geox with the lights for his birthday...he was thrilled.

And then there is Liam who is our most fashion conscious. He's the one who is absolutely determined to pick out his own clothes and the flashier the better. He loves things bright, things with bling, and things metallic so when he saw this silver pair with lime green stripes, he was crazed and his first statement was "Those are mine" Well thankfully they were on the sale rack and his size.

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