Thursday, December 31, 2009

HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR!

For as long as I can remember, we have had a New Years Eve with just me and the littles. Don always works New Years and 4th of July. It is just part of the job. And Alex is always in FL on New Years, and so it is just me and the two little ones. I think they could actually stay up until midnight tonight... but I won't let them. We always celebrate with Alex on the East Coast, which means that my kids call their brother and wish him a Super Happy New Year at 9pm... and we all get to bed at a reasonable hour.

This year I let the kids pick what we were going to do. So they said they wanted homemade pizza for dinner, with sparkling juice (blueberry was Cyan's pick when we were at Trader Joes), and s'mores for dessert. I added in the last of the farm veggies with organic ranch dip and we were off! (I am so going to miss those carrots and cabbage!)

We ate dinner, then sat around the fire and sang songs as loud as we could (I have good blackmail video should I ever need it later. ;) ) and then we made bunches of ooey, gooey goodness and got thoroughly bouncing off the walls to some tunes.

Very happy, and now VERY hyper kids are ready to ring in a new year (on the East coast).

(And please attempt to ignore the fact that my 2 year old screams "Happy birthday!" right here... thanks.)

From 2009-12-31

Wishing you all a safe, happy and abundant New Year!!!

Many blessings and love from us in the Rose Garden.


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Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup

We have always bought tomato soup from Trader Joe's. A quart of the Organic Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup and then another quart of the Organic Tomato Soup... mixed together with basil on top. Sometimes with tiny pasta in it, sometimes not. But always, the meal cost at least $7.99 to make... and we bought it. Was it convenient? Oh yes... pour two cartons in until it starts to boil, turn off, and add in already cooked pasta? Heck yeah! Super simple and will still stay as a 'fast food' along with our cans of black beans. But I have wanted to get away from it being a staple. And this recipe did that.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart of my Roasted Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tea sugar
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs cooking red wine
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil


Pour all ingredients in and bring to a hot simmer. Do not boil. I have started hitting mine with a stick blender so it is super smooth like the one from the store is. The kids like this better. Serve topped with chopped basil and add a side of good grilled cheese sandwich on rye or sourdough.

If you didn't put away any of the tomato sauce, (or you already have eaten it all) then feel free to make more for this recipe. One batch of tomato sauce will make 2 - 3 quarts of sauce. It makes it a slower supper, but wow, is it worth it! (And you will have spaghetti sauce fixings for another day too. The sauce freezes beautifully!)

Yum!


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Monday, December 28, 2009

Handcrafted Gifts ~ Fruit and Nut Granola

I like my granola for snacking right out of the bowl. No milk, no yogurt... just eating it with your fingers or a spoon, dry and crunchy. I couldn't find a recipe that was made with natural ingredients, but was still sweet enough to snack on. So I decided to make up my own recipe. After 3 tries and about 8 cups of burnt oats, I think I have finally hit the jackpot. This one turned out rather wonderful and I wanted to share.

Snacking Granola

1. Preheat oven to 300*

2. Combine in a large bowl:
10 cups rolled oats (feel free to mix and match other grains. I used three different mixed grains from my bulk section to get the 10 cups needed)
1 1/2 cups wheat germ
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup raw or halved almonds
1 cup other nuts (the 'pecan pieces' from Trader Joes worked really well.)

3. Stir together in a sauce pan on med/low :
1 1/2 tea salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup honey
1 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 Tbs Vanilla Extract

4. Mix into the dry mixture until completely saturated.

5. Spread into two baking pans (I used 9X13 Pyrex) and Bake at 300* for 40 minutes... stirring frequently (set a timer for every 7 minutes or so).

6. As soon as it starts to look dry, take out of the oven, stir thoroughly, and allow to cool.

7. When it is completely cool, add in:
2 1/2 cups dried fruit (mix and match works best. I used cranberries and golden raisins.)

8. Place in mason jars and give to girlfriends... or whoever you think would love it. :)

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Storing Christmas Ornaments

I saw this neat storage idea in the book I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas and thought it was brilliant! So I have been saving our local egg guys cartons this summer for this purpose. All of our tiny ornaments will all be tucked away in their own little area this year.

We didn't even use these ornaments this year... our tree was all the paper and recycled ornaments that we made. I was planning to take a picture, but the tree looks like I have two kittens and a toddler looks awful.

Several times this season I saw Logan happily standing at the tree and chanting "just one finger, just one finger..." as he poked the ornaments as hard as he could, knocking them right off the tree.

The kittens were good as long as we were up and around the house... but I would often wake in the morning to ornaments that doubled as 'pray' and saw many that were smacked around. Because you know, the tree wasn't actually decoration, it was a 'cat toy storage device'.

Between them there is not a single ornament on the bottom two feet of our Christmas tree. Other than that, it looks pretty. lol! And I am glad to say that my ornaments pictured here were kept far from harm all season in their own handy dandy egg carton containers. I will be happy to pull them out next year.
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Spontaneous Gratitude for holiday clean-up


I have no idea what is it about the day after Christmas that makes me want to clean, declutter, and organize everything. But I have done it every year. Friends think I am nuts as they lounge in their pj's with cocoa... but for me, getting new stuff in the house means that old stuff must go OUT. And in a new house, it means that things have been moved around and rearranged because you just don't know where everything fits yet.

This morning was a good one, but EARLY. Logan woke me up about quarter to 6... and was hungry. lol... Normally Alex would have handled this, (being my other super early riser), but he is off for his yearly visit with family and so I trudged my way out of bed, and made my baby boy some hot Farina cereal for breakfast.

This morning I am very grateful for:


Games of 6am Peek-a-boo.


A boxing day project: "clean pantry"

New projects on the horizon.

My Christmas gift to myself.... something green.

The blissful, beautiful sunrise.

My new best friend.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

A new dollhouse

It was time to replace the doll house I made. This time, instead of me making it, I had someone else do it. It was spendy, but well worth it. This dollhouse may last until I have grandchildren. Or even great grandchildren. It is very sturdy, solid wood, and absolutely lovely!

Santa brought her a new garden set to go with it:

I made her some new stuff as well.

The Christmas tree in this picture was a last minute holiday craft. Like I was frantically adding button ornaments at 6am yesterday morning. lol...

These were finished beforehand:

These were not brand new beds... but they had broken a year or more ago, and so with the help of some wood glue and some sandpaper, she got a 'new' set of beds. Complete with new wool blankets and pillows for winter. (Yet another great use for felted sweaters. :) )

Cyan's kitten loved it too. No wonder my tree doesn't have any ornaments on the bottom two feet. Right this second my house just screams "I have a toddler and two kittens!"

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Quotes from Christmas Morning

"I tink Santa gonna bring me lots o guns next time. LOTS o guns... for my 'tocking." ~ Logan

"I need more candy. Uh-huh... candy for my moat." ~ Logan, pointing at his mouth.

"I really think Prince Charming could be cuddly. Don't you?" ~ Cyan

And my personal favorite:

"Oh mama! I am about to cry with happiness!!" ~ Cyan

Merry Christmas to all. Have a blessed holiday!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Completed Critter Warmies

Getting time to do 'super secret Santa stuff' was harder than ever this year. Don has had to work this whole week and will have to work today and tomorrow too. It has made a lot of prep much more difficult with the kids all home with me. I didn't get everything done that I wanted to... but I did get the Critter Warmies done, and I am SO excited to give them a test drive tonight for sweet dreams with my kiddos.

This is Cyan's. Hers was made with her favorite sweater that got too small (the green stripe). I left enough to make her a hat or two as well.

This is Logan's. The fangs are more pointy on his because... well... Logan's fangs are more pointy. lol!

And this is Alex's. The softest face features, the heaviest and biggest of the three, he belongs to my big guy.

And they are just in time for a second cold snap. We woke this morning to temps in the low 20's. And I think it is going to get colder... but that also means blue skies... it may be an even trade. :) Happy Christmas Eve!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Always In The Season

From my brother, Chani

The song is only 4 minutes... the last 2 minutes are a plug for this awesome charity: World Vision

We have supported Heifer International, but this one looks great too!

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Handcrafted Holiday ~ Calendar gift bags

Over the years I have used many different types of wrapping. We have made cloth bags, used nothing but the funny papers, used the wrong side of paper grocery sacks, etc. But this year I wanted the gifts I give to be really beautiful as well as be recycled, so I decided to try my hand at making gift bags.

I love calendars. Like sheets, they are a staple in my recycling/upcycling materials. I ask for them at years end from everyone. I will take anything, but ones with children, mamas, babies, watercolor paintings... well, they make my heart sing. I don't have a problem cutting up most pictures for my art... but some of them... it just doesn't feel right to cut them to pieces when the whole is so beautiful. This is a project for those pictures.

You need:

Old Calendars
scissors
sewing machine with thread
eyelets and punch
ribbon

1. First select two pictures that compliment each other. I usually find that these are from the same calendar.

2. Sew the sides and bottom with your sewing machine. (No speical settings are needed to sew on paper.)

3. Trim all four edges of your pictures. If you can do it without taking away from the picture, cut the top just below the hole where you hang the calendar as well.

4. Mark 1 1/2 inch square with a ruler at each bottom corner of your picture. (Measure from the sewing seam, NOT from the edge of the picture.) Cut out this square.

5. Open the bag. At the bottom corner, fold in until the seams touch each other.

Sew this edge on both corners, making a square bottom bag. (This will seem like it is creasing the bag, but I haven't had it ruin one yet.)

6. If you would like, you can add another fancy touch to your wrapping by adding eyelets for the ribbon handles to go through. Measure 1/3 of the way in on each side, and punch the eyelet through on that spot.

7. Add ribbon for handles, some tissue, and of course, the gift!

Here is this one under the tree with a couple of cereal box boxes.

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