February 28, 2024

Sunday at the Art Museum

SoJo and I took a trip to "my" art museum this afternoon (where I work) and he had a great time checking out the art, including the big outdoor sculpture near the entrance..
Besides giving me "tickets" (our own private game where he gives Mr. Geek and I pretend tickets or real scraps of paper), he played with blocks and did a bit of coloring.
The museum has free Sunday programming where the Museum educators (myself included, though not today) assist visitors in making simple make-and-take art projects.
There's also an interactive kids' gallery that we re-design each time we get a new Special Exhibition (roughly twice a year). It's a lot of work, but so fun to make (imagine that show Trading Spaces, but with much smaller budget) and to see how much people enjoy it. The theme of our current show is The Green House, which focuses on eco-friendly architecture, so the kids' gallery was transformed into a green theme. Do you recognize this chandelier?
Yep, it's the one I made last year, and it's on loan to the gallery. There were also other fun things made with recycled items, like cereal box/cardboard garlands and mobiles
A bicycle clock and cardboard sconces
a giant dragon (I think we named him Recycle Rex or something goofy like that) made from cardboard boxes and other stuff we recycled from the storage closet.
I love the eyes, made from a globe cut in half, with coffee filter eyebrows.
We painted the boxes yellow (though I would have just left them unpainted--more natural-looking) and on top of each box is a little environment that kids can add to using paper, recycled egg cartons, string and other stuff. Each box represents a different setting, like water, air, land and sky.

This wall has an activity where kids write a wish for the earth or something they do to "go green" on a paper hand and then paste it onto the wall for others to see. I painted the cardboard globe, which is pretty cute, I must say. They eyes are actually pages from a magazine.
Under the world is a bean bag game using repurposed socks and gloves filled with rice as the bags.

We had a nice time, especially getting out of the house and being around other kids. Have you checked out your local museums lately?

February 23, 2024

Dance and Destroy

Rumor has it that children have a tendancy to trash their parents' houses for years on end. We definitely had a "beater" couch that got even more beaten down by 5 kids. Come to think of it, we still treat my parents' house like a dumpster, leaving dirty dishes for my mom to clean up when we visit and our cast-off college furniture (and poorly executed oil paintings of nude models, in my case), but that's not what this post is about.

It's about MY house. The precious oasis that I've so carefully and creatively decorated, which is slowly being destroyed by this sweet-looking boy below.
This child has plenty of toys to play with, but he prefers taking a wooden knife and breaking the reeds off of the wicker shelves in the playroom. And every other thing that has a woven quality, like baskets and containers. He considers curtains to be his own personal hang-toy, outlet covers are a fun challenge for him to try (and succeed in) removing, and he treats lamps like targets for throwing. I'm sure I'm not the only person in the house getting tired of hearing me say the word "no!"
Mr. Geek told me that this morning, SoJo took the spent match that the mister lit his meditation candle with and streaked the new curtain (shown in my previous post) with the burnt, black end (the match was cool, since the candle was lit an hour before). My dear husband thankfully disguised the act with soap and water, only so we could shake our heads about it after dinner.

I'm guessing that a lot of it is that he's a boy, and is sorely in need of a day outside. To remedy this, we've taken up dancing, or as we like to call it, "the wiggles."
It cracks me up to see SoJo wiggling his arms and dancing. I really need to get a video of it.
He especially loves dancing to Putumayo's Picnic Playground and gets excited when the Ice Cream song comes on. As soon as he hears that steel drum, he starts smiling.

So we don't live in a precious house filled with priceless objects, unless of course you count SoJo. I'd much rather have a beater of a house with him in it than a spotless, perfect abode. How's your home holding up?

February 22, 2024

A Little Pick Me Up

At our local health food store on Saturday, I chatted with a woman in line who was a cancer survivor. She had the most positive attitude about life and her aura (yes, corny as it sounds) really rubbed off on me, at least for the afternoon. She was savoring the warm, freshly pressed (?) peanut butter that the Mennonite woman had made for her in the back of the store and telling me how she brings her own glass jar in every time she needs pb. They normally sell it in plastic tubs, but when she was being treated for cancer the doctor told her to immediately put all items in glass or plastic (BPA fears and stuff like that). That's when she started bringing jars for peanut butter, and the women had no problem filling it up. I liked how she was cradling that jar and smiling with the warmth of good, fresh peanut butter in her hands.

One other thing that she said that struck me was when she told the cashier that she was so pleased to finally have a real winter to enjoy. While I've been walking around with a gray storm cloud over my head, cursing our cold house and solitary confinement, I really should be more thankful about the fact that we've had snow, beautiful snow, on the ground for a while now. After all, I tend to try and recall what a cold snowy day feels like in the midst of a summer heat wave (truly, summer humidity is by far worse than winter).

On another note, I spruced up our front door recently. It was wearing a Christmas berry wreath, which of course is appropriate for winter, but I was getting tired of it. I found a roll of sheer fabric with a Queen Anne's lace-ish (or Cow Parsley, for that matter) pattern on it for $.99 in the Ikea "As-Is" department (LOVE that section of the store) so I tacked it up on the inside. Then I added the book wreath that I can never stop mentioning here, because I was bored of looking at it on my wall, and here you go.
I love the neutral colors and the simplicity of it. I also like how the light peeks through the silhouette of the flower. I imagine that people walking by at night are warmed by the image of that glowing Queen Anne's Lace. Sorry about the rambling post with lack of photos to get you through those chunks of text that I so detest.

February 19, 2024

Friday Feast: Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes

Mr. Geek brought home some lunch guests today, and I decided a trip to Asia was in order. Both of these co-workers are fans of matcha, powdered green tea, so I thought that I'd whip up some cupcakes with matcha as a highlight.
As I've probably mentioned here before, Mr. Geek is a Japanophile. He loves Japanese culture, from the finest Japanese incense to sushi and tea. He enjoys whisked matcha tea (I'm much more of a coffee junkie), which is an intensely bright green color, as seen in the package below.
I find that it tastes a bit like corn leaves, but that's just me. I do like it every now and then for its fresh flavor. That's the only way I can describe it. Here are the dregs from his cup.
On to the cupcakes: to make them, I just used a typical vanilla cake recipe and added a teaspoon of matcha powder to the lemon buttercream frosting. I sprinkled some of the cupcakes with shredded coconut and some with lemon peel. They were delicious!
I would have added matcha to the cake itself, but I ended up baking them at my mom's yesterday and didn't have the matcha with me. I think these would be great for coloring some St. Patrick's Day goodies, especially because it's not an artificial dye, yet the green is so bright. And the benefits of green tea are always being heralded. Surprisingly, the flavor was not as intense as I had hoped.

Oh, and here's what we had for lunch, cucumber/mango salad (a variation on this recipe)
and a regular favorite, egg noodles with Thai curry gravy. I just kind of make it up as I go along (ginger, garlic, onions, curry paste, lime juice, cilantro, chili sauce, peanut butter, coconut milk, veggies, soy sauce, etc.).
I'm so stuffed, but I can't wait to have more of this for dinner! Check out Momtrends for more Friday Food ideas.

February 17, 2024

The Narrator

It seems like in addition to giving birth to a son, I also gave birth to my own personal narrator.
Here's a peek into yesterday's chapter:
"Mommy's going upstairs."
"Mommy's cutting onions."
"Mommy's tired." (repeating what I tell him, not what he observed).
"Mommy's eating a cracker."
"Mommy's hiding." (we were playing, I wasn't avoiding him!, though sometimes I do want to hide from him.)
"Mommy went outside."
"Mommy's tooted (farted)" (when I didn't! That little stinker).
As long as he doesn't say things like "Mommy, you want more wine?," I think a narrated life will be just fine. What are some of the funny things your kids have said about you?

February 15, 2024

it will be one awesome cake

Look what came in the mail this weekend--squeal!!
I won a Wilton cake decorating set over at Scary Mommy, and I'm so excited to bake some cupcakes and cakes using this obscene amount of decorating supplies. From cake pans to icing to sprinkles to cake toppers, I'm set for the next 10 years of birthdays. With SoJo's birthday coming up in March, these will definitely be put to good use.

Thanks so much Jill!

February 14, 2024

happy valentines

Hope you have a *love*lee day! Give yourself a hug for me...

February 12, 2024

The Prayer Shawl Ministry and Disney's Give a Day Get a Disney Day Promotion

I've been happily knitting away all week on my latest project, a Prayer Shawl to be donated to our local hospital. If you've never heard of the Prayer Shawl Ministry, it's essentially a grass-roots organization that accepts hand-knit or crocheted shawls to give to those in need of comfort or solace.
My creation of this shawl is like a long prayer, where I mindfully knit and embed positive thoughts within my knitting. It's been a wonderful practice for me, and I hope that whomever receives this shawl gets some of those good vibes in their life and finds peace when this shawl "hugs" her/him.
While I've wanted to knit and donate a shawl for some time now, I came across a promotion from Disney called Give a Day, Get a Disney Day while searching the Disney World site (we have an upcoming trip in May). If you volunteer a day of service in your community, you get a free pass to Disney World or Disneyland for a day. What a great program!
All the details are on their website, including participating local organizations. It's really easy to sign up, I just did it all via email, and many of the volunteer opportunities are just a few hours. My shawl will take a few days, but I really don't mind donating more than a day's time.
I intend on adding some fringe to the ends, assuming I don't run out of yarn. I'm using a black/gray acrylic and mohair blend and randomly adding a few rows of a pastel cotton yarn every few inches. I thought an entire black/gray shawl might be a bit too depressing. I'll update again when I finish it!

February 11, 2024

It's a Marshmallow World: Part 2

There's nothing like a snowstorm that leaves snowdrifts bigger than you, even if you are only 3 feet tall.
Mr. Geek and I were talking about how the old folks always say how they had tons of snow when they were growing up. When reflecting on his childhood, we hope that S doesn't think 2 feet of snow is a regular occurrence around these parts.
We're all dug out, thanks to our neighbor's snow blower. I love how a big snowstorm really brings out the good spirit in people. I baked blueberry muffins yesterday and gave some to the college kids who helped dig us out too, and also to our neighbor. It seems like a good way to get warm and fuzzy inside, besides huddling under a down comforter.
It's nice to see people who barely glance up at each other when coming and going happily helping each other out.
Let's hope though that I am not writing a Marshmallow World: Part 3 post anytime soon!

February 10, 2024

Snowbound Smoothies

We're snowbound again, and so far it's been pleasant. SoJo is taking a loooooong nap (2+hours!) and I got a little sewing done since Mr. Geek had an day off due to the blizzard-like conditions outside.
Our neighborhood has gotten another foot of snow so far, with more to come by evening. It's gorgeous, and after having the luxury of watching Lost (absolute favorite show of all time) last night and getting to sleep in this morning, I'm in great spirits. I even made some delicious smoothies for breakfast. Yeah, that's the first thing that pops into your head when it's freezing outside, having an ice-cold smoothie. But, hey, you can use clean, freshly fallen snow in this recipe! Since we had all the ingredients on hand, which rarely happens when the mood strikes for a certain food, I decided to make them.
Banana-Oat-Peanut Butter Smoothies (with snow!)
~1 pint vanilla yogurt
~2 bananas
~1 tbsp honey
~1 tbsp flax oil (optional--I add it for the extra health benefits)
~1-2 tbsp peanut butter
~1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
~1/2 cup milk
~1 cup ice, or several cups of clean SNOW in our case (add it in until it's the consistency you want)

Break up the banana, and add it to the blender along with the other ingredients. Blend until smooth. Makes about four 8oz. servings.

February 8, 2024

It's a Marshmallow World

Our weekend: snow.
While we didn't get clobbered like the folks just South of us in Philly, we still got about 6 inches, with another storm headed our way tomorrow, probably dumping another foot on us.
I used to like winter, thinking it to be a time of reflection and focusing inward. And snow is gorgeous. Plus it's prime knitting season. I'm just not so keen on it this year. My reasons:
1. This seems to be the coldest winter in years, and we've been stuck inside for what seems like months.
2. As a homeowner, it's painful to get a heating oil bill tucked into our front door. Hence, our thermostat is set to a chilly 63 degrees, most days.
3. I have a toddler who does not want me to knit when he is awake. Though I did start a shawl for donation to the Prayer Shawl Ministry this weekend (more to come on that later).
4. Snowsuits are a bitch to put on a squirming little boy. Don't even get me started on the boots.
I love how he just chills out in the snow, lying down as if he's on a beach in Hawaii.I'm glad that S enjoys the snow. We went out the last few days, just for about a half an hour. His poor little cheeks were so red, as he thinks that eating snow is the best thing ever. It's nearly impossible to keep his face out of the dirty snow.
He's now in a glasses phase. Last winter, it was the toothbrush phase
but now he wants those glasses on whenever we go out. I'm not complaining, as I've been hoping he'd start wearing them. I hope it just lasts until summer.
Snowy thoughts on a sunny day. At least the sun is shining! Though I miss going to the park and taking walks. Spring, please come soon, no matter what the deal with the Groundhog is.

February 5, 2024

Homemade Valentines: An Artistic Collaboration with a Toddler

We set out this morning to create some homemade Valentines to send to family and friends.
S is not the most patient or focused toddler in the world, but we collaborated on some cute, simple cards.
I pulled out the crayons and gave him some paper to color on.
I offered "Valentine-y" colors like pinks and reds, which lasted about 1 minute, and encouraged him to scribble away.
While he was working, I cut out some card shapes from a few sheets of cardstock (I measured some leftover envelopes I had on hand to get the size of the cards), and some background color for the front of the cards using some scrap pieces of scrapbooking paper. Tip: keep a pack of 12x12" paper in your home--it comes in handy for everything.

Once SoJo had scribbled on the papers, I folded them in half and cut out hearts with his scribbles on them. The I glued them onto the cards for an easy Valentine.I added some more scrapbook paper hearts and some Valentine sentiments with a Sharpie marker. Simple and elegant, and I think people will smile when they receive one of these in the mail this week.
What will you be making with your kids this weekend?
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