elementary school band

Tomorrow is Jake’s first day of band! Last fall he started taking trumpet lessons through school and clearly he inherited his father’s music gene because he’s really good. He even enjoys practicing and usually does it without having to be reminded. But band is a whole new level.

Now he’ll need to bring his trumpet twice a week for two band practices plus his music lesson. At least he has a good instrument. We purchased a trumpet for Christmas (after having repeated problems with the rental) and it just sounds so much better.

Nevertheless, he’s psyched about it and so am I. I often kick myself for quitting the clarinet. I can’t sing to save my life, but I was all right with the woodwind. (I just hated going to band at the high school so early in the morning — so at least since Jake’s is during the school day and at his school, I think we’ll be OK.)

back to it!


Huzzah, huzzah! The spring infant sets I’ve been working on are complete and ready to ship out as soon as I get paid! I feel like the last couple weeks I’ve focussed on little more than basic housekeeping/mommy duties and cursing at the Homespun yarn I used. But this morning I was back to my usual routine and it felt great.

I did laundry, changed the sheets on all the beds, tidying up… Boring stuff I guess, but stuff that feels great to get done. I also tried to clean a little in Jake’s room. My word, the lair of a 9 year old boy can be a curious place to visit. His shelves are so cluttered with Lego sculptures, sport trophies, Lowe’s Build & Grow projects, and Lord knows what else. I didn’t get very far — it’s a project I’ll just have to save for another day.

Not too much else is new. My parents came down yesterday and we enjoyed a visit with them. We have a couple more family visits coming up, but overall February looks like a pretty tame month (!). January was jam-packed so I wouldn’t mind a slower pace. And maybe a little snow 😉

catching up


Oh boy, I’ve thought about blogging countless times last week. I even made an effort to take lots of photos and everything, but… I just never got around to turning on the laptop. Some days it’s just easier to check my e-mail and whatnot on my iPod.

I’m not even sure what we all did. I was still fighting a cough, but I think it’s finally gone. (And now Drew is sick — poor thing can’t sleep for anything. I wonder if something like a
DreamEssentials.com white noise maker would help at all.)

I finished up the bunny hats and now I’m working up the ears. Lord willing, I will have these mailed out by Friday!

I ran out of coffee. I was forced to dip into my “yoinked from hotels” stash. It was rough, but now I have plenty of grounds, and some extra to spare.

It snowed. A couple of times. It finally seems like January now!

I got my free Zoya nail polish (the light purple is Kendal and the green is Dree). These polishes are so nice! I am not sure I can go back to my cheap-o Sally Hansen nail polishes after using these, LOL!

I made a chocolate chip cookie pie that used white beans as the primary ingredient. It was not bad!
white bean cookie pie

And Jake participated in the Webelo’s Eskimo Run held by our local boy Scout Council.

It was freezing and snowing, but I’m so proud of him. Drew said he really kept his complaints at bay, he knew the material he was tasked with studying, and worked well with the rest of the boys. I think he learned a lot about the importance of being a team player and pulling your weight. Hard to believe he has just one more year of Cub Scouts before he bridges over to Boy Scouts!

And now it’s Monday again! Wishing everyone a wonderful week…

menu plan monday, 1.16.12

It’s finally starting to feel like winter around here! And as much as I want to hole up in front of the wood stove, the fact is that I still need to plan and cook dinner for the family. So it’s a good thing I have a plan!

  • Monday: Roast chicken thighs, steamed broccoli, wild rice (leftover) tossed salad with fresh mozzarella and mustard vinaigrette.
  • Tuesday: Broiled steak with gorgonzola butter, sauteed zucchini and onions, salad
  • Wednesday: Veal parmesan meatloaf, salad
  • Thursday: Spiced beef ribs, steamed veggies, cole slaw
  • Friday: Pesto chicken breasts, small side of pasta, salad
  • Saturday: Probably take-out

For more menu ideas, visit Organizing Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday feature.

what a week


Goodness, it’s been a while since I’ve checked in here. It’s just been one of those weeks. I am sure you all know how it goes.

You see, Laura’s been waking up around 4 a.m. (This morning was a good morning — 4:45.) So by the time most people are getting on with their mornings, I myself am already dragging. Then, over the weekend I got sick. Sunday I felt miserable and Drew ended up taking all three kids out to lunch just so I could get a little rest.

Jake had a Webelos/Boy Scouts sleepover from Friday to Saturday, and soon after that he was complaining of a sore throat. Sure enough, when I took him to the doctor’s yesterday, we learned that he has strep throat (which I suspected). So he’s home again today, just to be on the safe side.

I don’t even know where the time has gone this week. I still have to transfer over a bunch of files to my new-to-me laptop and update my iTunes and all that good stuff. When my last one broke, it had been not long after I imported a number of my CDs (no music zumba dancers listen to or anything too crazy — just a bunch of old 90s indie rock).

What else… I have done a little bit of crafting this week. I made a couple hair bows for Laura and a bow display (super easy DIY and I hope to write up the tutorial for next week). I also restyled an old pullover into a cardigan. It was my first time sewing with a stretchy knit and it was not as scary as I thought it would be. The sweater was too big for me as a pullover, but works well enough for an around-the-house cardigan. (I’m always chilly!)

And then I’ve just been working on my baby bunny sets — another reason I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been trying to dedicate my free time to working on these instead of playing around online. Hopefully I’ll finish up soon because I have a ton of projects I would like to get started on!

homemade banana chips


For Christmas I gave Drew a food dehydrator. One of his favorite snacks is beef jerky, and he’s been talking about making it at home for a long time. I also thought it would be useful for preserving produce and herbs. (Go ahead – make the joke that this was really a gift for myself, I’ve already heard it!)

Anyway, I was really psyched to try this thing out, but didn’t want to go too crazy for my maiden voyage into the world of dehydrated foods. I had a bunch of bananas that were on the brink, so I thought banana chips were the perfect choice.

Making them could not be easier. Basically, it went like this:

1) Cut the banana into thin slices.

2) Give the slices a quick run through some lemon juice. You can add honey, cinnamon, or jazz it up in some other way but I opted to keep it simple. While this step is technically optional, it helps prevent the banana slices from getting too brown.

3) Place the slices on one of the dehydrator trays, leaving plenty of room for airflow. Three bananas filled almost two trays (I also threw a little cantaloupe on there just for giggles.)


4) Turn the machine on and wait. And wait some more. And wait a little more. And just when you think they might be done — no — wait a few more minutes. All told I think it took about 6 hours of drying.

And that is really all there is to it! When the bananas felt done, I carefully took them off the tray and stored them in a canning jar. For long-term storage you want something airtight, and you want to store them in a dark, dry place. But I knew these would not last that long.


I don’t normally buy banana chips, but 2/3rds of my kids now love them. Jake and Noah both asked to take some for snack at school so I guess I will be making them more often. Honestly, it’s a great alternative to banana bread when those bananas are just a little too soft to eat. The dried cantaloupe was delicious, too!

I’m excited to experiment more: apple slices, zucchini chips, pears, watermelon, and of course herbs once the summer rolls around. Who knows, maybe I’ll even try making my own herbal tea mixes! So many possibilities!

{ta-da!} finished crochet bunny set

bunny set

Oh boy, I sure hope the rest of these hats & diaper covers hook up easier than this one. This was a project wrought with frustration. The original pattern I purchased was not very good. I’m working with a yarn I don’t love (Lion Brand Homespun). And I feel stressed to get this whole order done.


With that said, I am pleased with the final product. I might need to make a Cabbage-Patch sized set for Laura’s baby 🙂 I really love the diaper cover. The shape came out just right (in my opinion) and I made it one-size-fits-all. All you need to do is tighten the cord around the baby’s waist to get it to fit. Remember — these are photo props, so it just has to stay on for a little while. But I do think this would hold on well unless it’s an especially squirmy baby!

diaper cover-front

diaper cover-back

I feel like the hat is a little on the big side (even though I followed the pattern — see this is what I get! Should have just hooked up the beanie I’m comfortable with). But I’m sending this to my friend today and he can let me know.

For now, I am taking the day off from crochet! I need to tidy up the house and I’d really like to quickly sew a new camera strap cover for myself. Happy Friday!

bunny hat sneak peek

I’m so close to finishing up my bunny set! I just have to crochet the inset for the ears and then sew everything up. This has been a really frustrating project to get right. I read and combined and changed around so many different patterns that at this point I feel like it’s my own design. (I mean, let’s get real here – how unique is a basic hat and diaper cover?) Since I have to make 9 more of these, by the time I’m done I just may write up the pattern to share with you all. (Unless I’m totally sick of them by that point, LOL!)

You may notice my book in the background. Today I’m linking up with the Yarn Along hosted by Ginny at Small Things. She invites her readers to share a project and their current read. Drew gave me a copy of A Flight of Angels for Christmas after we met Rebecca Guay (the artist behind this beautiful work) at NY ComicCon in the fall. She is an amazing fantasy artist and we had no idea who she was until then, but when we started looking through our Magic cards, we found a few that she illustrated!

Hopefully I’ll finish up both of these tonight!

well hello, 2012!

Ah, the boys are back at school today and I am easing into my regular routine. I had such grand plans to redesign my blog header, update my sidebar, etc. etc. in time for the new year, but… sometimes things just don’t work out, LOL!

Yesterday morning Laura was feeling under the weather, then since she seemed to feel more like herself as the morning went on we went out to Chili’s for lunch and I ran to Joann’s while D. hit the comic book store. Then I tried to make sense of a diaper cover pattern for some photography prop sets I’m working on, and before you know it — bed time.

But it’s a new day! And I have so, so, so much to do. The laundry piles are ridiculous, I have to go through everyone’s closets and figure out what to keep and what to donate, and I need to finish up the previously mentioned infant set and get the sample mailed out to make sure the sizing is correct. (Don’t worry, I’ll post a pic when it’s done — these are so ridiculously cute!)

I feel this urge to clean, to reorganize, to do like a million different craft projects, to plow through my stack of “to be read” books. But I know I can only tackle one thing at a time, so I’ve written up my to-do list for the week, including the projects in the free calendar from My Simpler Life. Instead of printing it out and creating yet another pile of paper for myself, I’m hoping that having the tasks written down in my planner will help me get them done.

And with that, I really should get off the computer! Here’s to an excellent new year!!!

menu plan monday #1

I never got my meal plan up yesterday, but that’s not because I didn’t write it! I actually had it all set, but never wrote up the post. So here you go. A quick & dirty list to start the year, but hey — better than nothing!

  • Monday: Leftovers
  • Tuesday: Slow Cooker BBQ ribs, twice-baked potatoes (from the freezer), roast butternut squash, salad
  • Wednesday: Slow Cooker Chicken tacos (lettuce, cojita cheese, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, corn tortillas if you want one), spicy black bean soup
  • Thursday: Sausage Parmesan, salad
  • Friday: Turkey burgers, salad, zucchini chips
  • Saturday: Pizza night! Cauliflower crust with chicken, broccoli, onions, peppers & black olives or traditional crust with pepperoni. Salad.
  • Sunday: Chicken Parmesan meatloaf, steamed broccoli

For more menu ideas, visit Organizing Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday feature.