Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oliver's Cooking Show: Fruit Smoothies


In this third episode of his cooking show, 3-year-old Oliver will teach you how to make a fruit smoothie.

You can find his other cooking show episodes here:

Episode 1: Peanut Butter
Episode 2: Brownies

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mommy Fail

I had another mommy fail today. I put both kids down for a nap around 2:30 this afternoon. Things were quiet at first, but then Jo started to cry. I decided to let her cry it out for a bit while I chopped veggies for soup and brewed coffee. She kept on fussing and crying, and I thought, "Geez, Jo, you have to be tired. Just go to sleep already." After about 20 minutes, she finally did. She only slept about half an hour and then woke up fussing again. "Oh well," I thought, "At least she can make it to bed time now." I went upstairs to grab her. I walked into the kids' room and saw her...

She was stuck on her stomach with both of her legs stuck all the way through the crib bars. I pulled her legs out and picked her up. As I held her, she didn't cry. I rubbed her legs in case they'd fallen asleep, but she seemed OK.

I feel like such a failure. I'm glad nothing horrible happened because of it, but, geez, that goes to show how something can go wrong when you least expect it.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Making Confetti Eggs (Cascarónes)

Last year, Oliver was introduced to confetti eggs in Texas. Andrew's extended family in Texas were surprised to learn that I'd never seen confetti eggs before. Apparently, they're a tradition from Mexico's Carnival that's been adapted for Easter celebrations in Texas. All the grocery stores there sell egg cartons full of these confetti eggs that you bust open. Here's Oliver checking them out:

Well, in spite of our high Mexican-Hispanic population here in the Denver area, I've never seen confetti eggs sold in supermarkets or anywhere else. So, I decided to set the bar high and make some of my own. But wait, you're thinking. It's still February! You're right, of course. And to that, I answer: If I'm going to hollow out a couple dozen eggs before Easter next month, then I think I'd better start now. OK, yeah, maybe I'm just crazy...

Well, read on to see how I made confetti eggs. I got the step-by-step instructions from Martha Stewart's website. I took photos of each step as I did them.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February Snow

We finally got some more snow! We've been desperate for snow here in the Denver area. Our climate is so dry. If we don't get enough snow, that spells bad news: droughts and wildfires. Even people who hate the snow are relieved to see flakes fall because, as you'll hear people say, "we really need it."

When a good snow finally falls, we have to get out and enjoy it! Oliver did a good job enjoying the snow.

 Joanna didn't enjoy the snow so much...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dusty Green Dainty Baby Blankie

I used a free pattern from Premier Yarns to make this "dainty baby blankie" for Phuong (pattern here). It went pretty quickly once I got comfortable with the pattern, but I used a lot more yarn than was called for (probably because I switched brands). I used six balls of "Vanna's Choice" in dusty green because I love natural colors. Besides, I figure she is probably getting a whole lot of pink stuff! I thought this would give her a nice contrast with pink, and it can be used again if she ever has a little boy.

I'd say this blanket is good for advanced beginners, which is what I consider myself. It was the second time I've ever done front-post and back-post double crochet stitches (BPDC and FPDC). It created those nice, raised stripes down the blanket.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Mom Tries to Paint

Andrew and I tried our hand at painting for one of our semi-weekly date nights in. This was actually back in August. It was fun! I picked up some acrylic paints at Michael's (totally not knowing what I was doing). Then, I printed off one of our pictures from Georgetown, Colorado, and he printed a photo of the Rockies near Aspen. We used brushes and paper plates and figured it out as we went along. 

This was the photo I used:

And here are our paintings. Mine (on the right) kind of looks like the photo, right?

We have those paintings displayed in our bathroom. Well, I was reminiscing about it because I just got back from a painting group. All of these painting places have been popping up in the Denver area--Canvas & Cocktails, Sipping and Painting, and Art on the Brix. Basically, you go, and an instructor gives you step-by-step instructions on how to complete your masterpiece.

My dad went to Canvas & Cocktails with his work place over the holidays. They painted Larimer Square. Ever since then, I've wanted to check one out. So, I went with some ladies from MOMS Club to Art on the Brix in Golden. I had a really great time with those ladies, and I got to create a new masterpiece.

It's my Impressionist painting. Seriously, it was a ball.

There's something to be said about taking the night off and making some art. I feel so inspired!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Heart-Shaped Treats for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

I love holidays. It's so much fun to hang up little decorations or plan special meals. I've always liked celebrating them, but it's gotten even more fun since having kids.

Yesterday, for dessert, I made tapioca pudding. I was washing strawberries to freeze for smoothies when I had an idea to cut them into hearts. Check out this cute pre-Valentine's Day dessert:

Today, we had friends from MOMS Club come over and help us decorate cookies. It was Oliver's first time having friends to the house, and he was excited to show them his mixer and mixing attachments. The kids were all younger than Oliver. One was mostly interested in feeling the sprinkles. Another had fun decorating, but he insisted on eating his cookies as soon as a bit of frosting got on them. After eating a number of cookies, his mom decided he'd better be done. Oliver decorated about six and then ate half of them. The rest of the 50 cookies were decorated by moms. Well, we had fun.

Hosting this cookie decorating day gave me a chance to compare various sugar cookies. Homemade cookies were vastly superior! Don't get me wrong, I love Pillsbury biscuits, crescent rolls, and refrigerated pie crusts. You can do so many creative things with those products. I've used their sugar cookie dough for fruit pizzas and was pleased. However, I discovered last night that their sugar cookies were terrible  for cut-out cookies. They expanded and puffed up and completely lost their shape. While cooling, they deflated. We were left with weird, oval-shaped, flat cookie blobs. I used the cookie cutter to try to re-cut them. It was better than before, but we were still left with flat cookies that looked icky and had rough edges. So, Oliver and I had to make an emergency batch of sugar cookies ourselves, and they turned out beautifully (you can find that Taste of Home recipe here). Bookmark that recipe! They made the best sugar cookies that tasted great and held their shape.

After cookie decorating fun, I got busy making a heart-shaped pizza!

...and then we finished the night off with a mini heart-shaped, red-velvet cheesecake (I halved this recipe from McCormick, and used a heart-shaped springform pan like this:


Oliver wanted to sing a song, so we sang, "Happy Valentine's Day to You," before diving into our cheesecake goodness.
I hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day celebrating with your family, friends, or loved one.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Crochet Stripy Giraffe

One of my very best friends is expecting! I've been combing Pinterest for gift and shower ideas for her, and I found the cutest stuffed giraffe to crochet. The pattern is available for free from I Love Buttons by Emma. A few times, the math on some of the decreasing rows didn't add up, so I had to get creative in figuring out what I was supposed to do. I think it turned out well!

Here's my finished giraffe. I accidentally sewed the giraffe's head on a little sideways, but then I decided it looked cute this way and left it as it was.

I decided the giraffe needed a tail, so I made one. It looks like a lion's tail. Don't laugh.

I used materials I had on hand for this little guy. It was a nice way to use up all those random bits of yarn I had lying around.

It's the first crocheted stuffed animal I've ever made. It was a lot of fun, and I was so pleased with how everything was coming along. So, I took in progress photos. Haha. Man, am I glad I live in a digital age. I don't have to feel bad about taking pictures of basically everything.

The finished head and the arms and legs:

I got a kick out of stuffing the body and decided to take a photo of my headless giraffe.

My plan is to make a tricycle diaper cake for the shower. I found a tutorial for one here. I'm going to put the giraffe up on the tricycle. It'll be a cute and creative center piece.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dinner for my little Valentine

I decided to get creative with Oliver's dinner tonight. I was making grilled cheese and soup when I remembered something I once saw on the internet (maybe Pinterest. OK, probably Pinterest). They suggested cutting sandwiches with heart-shaped cookie cutters. I decided to do it to Oliver's grilled cheese. I chopped up the remaining grilled cheese parts into bite-sized pieces for Jo's dinner. You could probably just used them as little soup croutons for yourself if you don't have a little one.

I put the hearts on one of the owl plates that my mom gave the kids last year for Valentine's Day (I believe they were from Target). I drained his chicken noddle soup and then used the noodles to make a nest for the owls. Voila!

Wouldn't this make a cute toddler lunch on Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Troubles in Gymnastics Class

Urg, I am having a rough time with my favorite 3 year old. I feel so helpless sometimes, trying to figure out what to do when he acts out.

He started a "big kid" gymnastics class last month. Instead of me being in the class with him, I sit on the bleachers and observe. The first class went so well! Here he is with one of his coaches on the balance beam:

It's been downhill since that class. He's been throwing tantrums, picking up items and throwing them and kids, and hitting other children! The worst part is, when he does it, he looks right at me. I know he's testing to see what happens. Although I want the coaches to be in charge, I also don't want to make them figure out what to do with a child who is hitting other kids. When he hits or throws things, I intervene and put him in time out. That causes him to cry, and then he is a helpless case for his coaches the rest of class. He's had four classes now, and we've left two of them within the first ten minutes because he just breaks down, throws a tantrum, and throws things at other kids. I'm trying to be consistent: If he is going to act out and throw things, then he gets a time out. If he keeps it up, then we have to leave. He loves gymnastics class (we'd done the parent-tot one for a while), and cries the whole way home because "he lost it." Yet, as soon as we get back to this class, he's up to the same behavior. I keep telling myself my consistency will pay off, but I'm disheartened.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Story of the Starbucks Troublemakers

My husband made that flyer for the Starbucks crew on Florida & Kipling. After work, he took Oliver to go tell them he was sorry, and they left the flyer and a tip for the crew.

Here's the full story: