Sunday, December 16, 2012

Congrats, Aunt Lauren!

This weekend my sister-in-law Lauren graduated from Ball State University up in Muncie, IN. We were lucky that my in-laws made it possible for us to go up there and share the special occasion. We left Friday around lunchtime and spent some time once we got there realizing that none of the packing aside from the kitchen table was going to happen until the next day.

We watched Rudolph in our hotel room and Daven went swimming with nana. Well actually, he clung to her like a baby monkey and then wanted to get out. He said that he was scared. It's odd since he's usually such a water bug. But it had been a long day. He kept saying that he wanted to go back home which made me sad. I thought he would be excited. I guess he's in a phase when he doesn't want to venture too far from the routine and familiar places.

It was a frantic race to get to graduation early enough to get good seats the next morning. We saw Lauren walk in but right after that I had to take Daven out because he was yelling at me for telling him he couldn't kick the seat in front of him. He was upset and said he would be good, but then he fell asleep on me. So I sat outside the arena on the floor with a sleeping Bub until an irritating mother with a screaming child hovered over us long enough to wake Daven up.

We went back in just in time to see Lauren walk up and receive her diploma. Everyone cheered when the last person crossed the stage. Hooray! Congratulations everyone, but that was long and boring!

Oh wait, the president has a few words. You could feel the collective disappointment from people in the audience that were already gathering their things in anticipation of seeing their new graduate.

This woman spoke for what felt like so long you could have made a drinking game out of it. Oh, she said innovative - take a drink!

We got pictures with our robed grad before it started raining. Then we filled up on shakes and chili at Steak n Shake before heading to her apartment to commence The Great Move.

Another car ride to get back home came next. That was made more enjoyable by the VHS tape of Toy Story. We watched this both ways. Daven was great in the van and was pretty agreeable the majority of the time.

I know she's going to miss her friends at school, but we're happy to have aunt Lauren home!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Handprints and Ornaments

We did this craft last Friday. It was Nana Julie's birthday and I wanted Daven to be able to give her something he made. We made salt dough, which is simply salt, flour and water. I let him play with it like playdough for a bit before we got to work.

We made a heart ornament for each nana, as well as handprints and a few others. Lainey didn't know what to think when I squished her fingers into the dough. We gave her hand print to her mommy and daddy to hang on their tree.

After they baked and cooled, Daven painted a few. Although he really didn't make a mess, he still insisted on taking off his shirt before he started painting.

I remember doing this craft with my mom and sisters. She added green dye to the dough and used a Christmas tree cookie cutter. Then we used the squirty fabric paint to decorate our trees. I'm pretty sure a handful of those still get put on my childhood Christmas tree.

Maybe next we'll make cinnamon ornaments.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Homemade Applesauce

I originally intended on making apple butter, but Daven wanted applesauce. The process is the same; there's just significantly less sugar in the sauce than there is in apple butter.

I didn't keep count of how many apples went into this. I had a bag full to work with.

Peel the skin off of apples.
(Some people leave the skin on. I don't like it that way. )

Slice apples and chop into small pieces.

Add cinnamon, sugar, and brown sugar to the bowl. The amount depends on your tastes. I used a cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup sugar and a few tsps of cinnamon. A dash of nutmeg if you're feeling adventurous.

This may sound like a lot of sugar, but keep in mind that my largest bel was filled to the top with apples.

Microwave for 15 min. Stir every 5 min.

Move apples to the blender and purée.

Eat hot or stick it in the fridge.

I also made a small batch without any sugar or spices for 6 month old Lainey to try. I'm excited to find out if she likes them as much as she likes sweet potatoes!

Daven will eat this by the bowl. I plan on making some biscuits soon so I can top them with the applesauce. Yum.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review: Gone Girl

If I were to review this book in a single word, it would be WOAH.

Anyone who enjoys thrillers or suspense should pick up this book.  And if you don't?  Read it anyway.  It might just open up a new genre.  Seriously.  I'm not kidding.  Do I look like I'm kidding?  Well that's just my normal face.  Just trust me.

But seriously, Flynn takes her readers through a roller coaster, like the ones that go upside down so many times you're dizzy when you try to get up at the end of the ride.  But it's so awesome that you go back and ride it again.

I had heard a bit of buzz about this book, although I couldn't really place where if you asked me (so don't).  I'd periodically check the library to see if it was available, but it never was and there was a long list waiting.  I didn't put myself on the list because honestly, it could be seriously a year before it would be my turn.  Not to put pressure on any slower readers; I'm just impatient when it comes to good reads.

Then I happened to notice it on the bottom of the book shelf at my sister-in-law's house this past Monday and asked if I could borrow it.  She was gracious in letting me borrow not only this book, but a stack full.  Anyone that knows me knows that I am a full-on nerd when it comes to books and I was pumped to have new reads.

"It doesn't turn out like you think it would" was what she told me.  Fair enough.  Most thrillers don't if they're written well.  100 pages in and I texted her "This guy is a jerk!"  She told me just wait.  HO-LEE-COW.  I understand what she meant though.  You can't give away anything without ruining it. 

Here is the synopsis if you're curious:

Basically, the book starts out like an opening scene for Law and Order.  Flynn gives the reader a bit of time to get acquainted with the situation and the characters and then BA-BAM!

This book was the most technically  engaging book I've read since The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series.  And it's equally as twisted, although not quite as graphic.  I've already told quite a few people that they need to hurry up and read it just so I can discuss it with someone.  This is urgent!

So if you happen to get a gift card to a bookstore this holiday season, I'd definitely recommend Gone Girl.  While it's number 85 on the list of books I've read this year (not counting comic books) I'd rank it in the top 5 for sure.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Review: How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You

My favorite section to look for new books is the humor section.  These books are usually fast, easy reads that take your mind off of whatever you have going on at the time.  But they aren't big commitment books - you can be done with them in a day or two and send them right on back, or pass them on if you purchased a physical copy.

I got the ban on my online library account lifted yesterday after I paid my $4 fine for turning in two movies that I had checked out a day late.  (And the real funny part?  Daven and I didn't even watch them!)  So last night when Daven and I were hanging out in my bed watching Jessie, I got on and looked for something new to read.

I was happy to see that a few new books had been added to the humor section, and I immediately checked out this book - How to Tell if your Cat is Plotting to Kill You.  Now I would personally categorize this as more of a graphic novel - it's a big group of comics put together to make a book.  But the library doesn't really have those available online yet, so it was grouped with the humor.  And it was funny.

I went through this is an hour or less.  And I laughed out loud a handful of times.  Daven laughed, too, because he thought I was laughing at something in his show.  Oh sweet bub, I've seen those episodes so many times now that they can't be funny anymore.  

The illustrations are great, and the whole thing is just witty.  Anyone who has a cat can relate to this book.  And those who hate cats, like my dad, would like it as well.  It's entertaining for sure.

I wouldn't personally buy this, but if you can find it at the library or loan it from someone else for a day, I think you would be amused.  I should probably clarify that my choice to not purchase it is mostly because of lack of funds, but also because it wasn't long enough.  I'd consider it more of a sampler, or a potty read.  Which is fitting, because poop is mentioned quite a bit!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Repurposing Old Candles

You know the kind - candles that have been used so much that the wick is down to the quick even though there's still wax left at the bottom. The glass is more than likely blackened by the hours it spent lit. It should probably just be tossed. But you love the sent!

Don't cry, and don't toss the candle yet.

Melt the wax in the microwave on 50% power until it is liquid. Then carefully, with potholders, pour the wax into cupcake holders.

That's it! After the wax hardens again you can peel away the paper and pop it into your candle wax warmer. This way you still get to enjoy your favorite sent long after the candle life has passed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Smartie No-pants

"Don't jump on the couch, Daven. If you want to jump, do it on the floor, please."

Sometimes I'll get an, "Ok, mommy" while other times its, "No! Me jump on couch!"

Recently, he's found a kind of loop hole. He takes the cushions off the couch, sets them on the floor and jumps on them.

Clever, Bub :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Book Review: The Brightest Star in the Sky

Marian Keyes has been one of my favorite authors for many years now.  It started with Sushi for Beginners, which I checked out of the library on a whim.  Since then, I've read just about everything by her and have loved every bit of it. 

I was so excited when this book, Brightest Star in the Sky came out that I had Adam purchase it from Europe because their release date was months ahead of the US.  It came in the mail and I was giddy with excitement.  I opened the book and began to read.  And then I got the newsletter.

I get monthly emails from Marian through her site with her writings about her life and any updates that she has.  But this one was not written by her - it was from her husband, addressing her fans.

Marian had hit a rough patch and wasn't feeling well.  Major depression.  He wanted to let us all know that he wasn't sure when she would be writing to us again, let alone writing another novel.

I'm not sure if I actually cried when I read this, but I know I at least felt like I wanted to.  After this, I couldn't read anymore of the book.  What if it were the last book she writes?  I'd finish it and then wait forever for a new book that wouldn't come out.  I just couldn't do it.  Adam thought I was absolutely nuts.  To his credit, though, I probably am.

 This comic strip describes exactly how I feel!

This was all back in 2009, and the book has been sitting on my shelf every since.  I think I may have tried to read it again once more, but was sad and put it back away.

I'm happy to share that Marian is feeling better.  She's writing again.  She is on twitter now.  And I love her.  So I finally read the book.  Marian didn't disappoint.

"One address.  Four flats.  A houseful of hearts. And the extraordinary visitor about to change their lives forever...66 Star Street.  It's Marian.  It's magic."

The back cover sums it up pretty well.  The reader is submerged into the lives of all the people living in this apartment building, or flat since they're Irish, after all.  

There is some entity floating through their lives and their memories, and you really don't find out what that is all about until the very end.  At first I was a tad irked that you as the reader don't know what is going on.  But after a bit I got so submerged and invested in all of the characters that I stopped fixating on that.  They are all so different and yet by the end of the novel "fate" brings them together.

An older lady and her dog.  Her adult foster son.
A married couple who watch hours of tv and eat lots of sweets
A single woman about to turn 40.
A taxi driver and her two Polish roommates.

If you haven't read any of her books yet, check one out at the library the next time you make a visit.  Let me know what you think.  I'd love to share my love of Marian Keyes with other readers.


Thursday, November 1, 2012


After a month of watching endless shows and movies about Halloween and reading books about it, yesterday was finally the day. I don't think that Daven believed me straight away when I told him that it was. He kept saying, "Not Halloween yet!"

After a long morning of him fussing for candy and being a general grump, (Genral Grump! ::salutes::) he took a nap. I was very thankful for this.

That is, until he woke up and refused to get dressed. We were going to both Nanas' houses, so we were on a time schedule! I'm not really sure how Adam and I finally managed to get him dressed and out the door.

We finally made it to Nana Julie's and Daven went out trick-or-treating with his cousin, Cameron. We were a bit slow-moving, though, and he ended up going on without us. Daven made daddy carry him in between houses. He did walk up to the houses to tell people about his light saber. It was adorable.

After rounding the block, we dropped by his great nana's for a moment. He scored a $5 bill there. Then it was off to my mom's house for another round.

He must have had enough, because Daven wouldn't put his costume back on and go out in my parent's neighborhood. He was all too content playing with aunt Lacey and Leah and didn't want to be bothered with more walking. While I didn't really mind because it was dark by this point and growing colder, I know my mom had been looking forward to taking him out. And Adam was bummed at the lack of candy there ended up being for him to snag later on.

Halloween may be over now, but Daven can still be Yoda any time he wants.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Party!

Yesterday we (Daddy) carved our pumpkin. I decided to pick the seeds out of the slimy pumpkin guts and cook them.

*half an hour later and yucky, irritated hands*

I rinsed the seeds thoroughly. I lost more than a few to the floor, counter, sink...they just kept getting away from me.

Next I was supposed to towel dry the seeds. Seems simple enough. But the darn things stuck to the paper towel. I guess I should have used an actual towel. Hmph.

Into the skillet they went and I was giddy to watch the seeds jump around the pan as the remaining moisture evaporated. Dance, little seeds! Dance!

After they began to brown, the brown sugar goes in. And here is where I did an oopsie. The recipe calls for 2-3 tbls but for some reason I thought it called for 3/4 CUP of brown sugar. We'll check this off for my blonde moment of the day.

A bit of olive oil goes in, which I assume is to help keep them from sticking together. I need not bother though, because with my mis-measure those babies are stuck!

When everything was all melty, I poured it all out onto foil. I tried my best to spread it out.

Despite my oops, they are pretty yummy. So woohoo for that!

Daddy did a great job on our pumpkin. Sadly, though, it didn't last the night. Raccoons destroyed it while we slept. So it looks like there will be another round of pumpkin madness so that we may avenge our fallen bumby.

As I've said before, sorry the pics aren't all in order.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Living Room Putt Putt Golf

Daven is pretty obsessed with golf right now. He wants to go outside every day with daddy to "hit ball high". He also insists on having his clubs inside at all times. And he's getting a bit too good at hitting the ball.

This morning I attempted to give him an activity where he could use his golf clubs but without getting TOO wild.

I used toys and recycled things to make the holes for him to aim for. Then he could stand in the middle of the room and hit it in whichever direction he wanted.

As you can tell from the pictures, Daven got even more creative by using a big Lego piece as a tee. I would never have thought of that myself!

One of the best things about this activity was that we had to clear the floor beforehand. Having the motivation of playing golf inside, Daven was much more willing to put away his toys. He also insisted that HE vacuumed the floor, which is pretty stinking adorable!

I've seen online where a mom used green towels as the pathway. I know we have one green towel, but no telling where it might be! I'm hoping to come up with a few more ways to make this better and keep it interesting for Bub. Ideas are welcome!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Apple Muffins

I went in search of a muffin recipe using apples because Daven doesn't like the packaged slices that come in Happy Meals and we had collected a few packages of them. I searched Pinterest this morning and just picked one. I needed to get it in the oven before baby Lainey was dropped off.

Here's where the recipe is:

I didn't have any nutmeg, so I used cinnamon instead. And I mixed the apples in cinnamon and sugar and let that soak in while I was prepping the rest of the batter. Other than that, I followed the recipe.

The verdict? DELICIOUS! They remind me a bit of an apple fritter in muffin form. They are super filling as well. I put two on my plate and couldn't finish them both.

My drink of choice for this, as well as the writer of the blog I found the recipe from, is coffee. Hot tea would be nice as well. Or milk. Bub is having a sippie of soy milk with his.

Daven is currently licking the cinnamon sugar off the top of his muffin. And he has no idea that those apples he doesn't like are inside! I would definitely make these again :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall Wreath

A blank wreath and some ribbon is all you need to make this project. This is a small wreath I picked up at the Dollar Tree.

All you have to do is wrap the ribbon around the wreath. That's it. You could glue it down if you'd like, but I didn't bother with that. I tucked the ribbon under a branch to start and left some hanging out to tie the bow with.

I had gotten this ribbon at Old Time Pottery a few years ago for $1. So this wreath costs a total of $2!

If you wanted a smoother look you would want to use a styrofoam wreath instead of the branches. And you could use any size! Just keep in mind the bigger and/or thicker the wreath, the more ribbon you will need to wrap around.

So what do you think? Do you have any ideas for your own wreath? Older kiddos could even do this all on their own :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cheap Thrills

More toddler painting! We found this kit at the Dollar Tree. If you didn't already know I have a strange love for hippos. In the future, it's completely possible that my family and friends will stage an intervention because my house is overflowing with hippo things.

Bub was excited to paint his hippo and I loved watching him paint. The hippo came with paints and a brush. It took me a good 5 minutes to open all of the colors though. I thought for a moment that they were glued shut!

I think Daven did a pretty good job. (Full disclosure - I'm biased) It's now sitting right next to his hippo bank on our hutch.

Does he have hippo stuffed animals? Bath toys? Yes he does. And no, we don't have a problem!

Book Review: Four of a Kind

I downloaded this ebook because I liked the picture on the front cover. I guess you could say that it was a reversal of the old saying; I decided to give it a read because of the way it looked.

As soon as I opened up the file I almost sent it back. Why? It was 827 pages long. That's a big commitment for a book that I knew nothing about. But for whatever reason I decided to give it a go anyhow.

4 moms become friends through a school committee - one that results in poker games instead of fundraising.

Carla - a religious conservative pediatric doctor with 2 sheltered boys.

Bess - a peppy, wealthy housewife with 4 kids.

Allicia - unhappily married and has a son with emotional issues.

Robin - a single mother who kept the secret of her daughter from the one-night-stand father.

This book spans a year's time and each chapter switches first person narrative. The ladies transition from feeling forced to meet and share to each pining for their bimonthly poker nights.

Each mom has obstacles to overcome and their friendships are all put to the test. As you can imagine, a lot happens over 800 pages. But rest assured that there is a happy ending.

I don't know that I've ever played poker, nor do I have any desire to learn. That left me with a bit of a disconnect with the book. There was so much poker terminology that a glossary at the end.

The thing that kept me reading, however was the idea of adult female friends. It seems so hard to make and maintain a strong, personal connection with someone new. These characters gave me hope that new, meaningful friends are yet to be made.

Book Review: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future...

I found this little book on the display of new releases at the library. I say little because its right at 100 pages, which is significantly shorter than most of my reads.

While I haven't read his other two books, this is Michael J. Fox's third publication. I wasn't really sure what to expect. The cover claims that within it this book held, "twists and turns and lessons learned".

The book is broken down into four brief sections. The first discusses how Fox was a high school drop out, moved away from home to pursue acting, and though he had financial hardships, he managed to survive.

The next "part" is broken down into different school subjects and his take on each. I pretty much spaced out during this section. Although there was a funny bit in the Physics chapter where Fox assures everyone that he does NOT have a hover board. (Damn)

Part III discusses mentor-ship and goes into some details of his acting career. The final section visits his father's passing, his journey with Parkinson's and overcoming life's obstacles.

While I've read the whole struggling actor story before, it was refreshing to hear some of the details Fox discloses. For instance, when first diagnosed he coped with alcohol. We all love a happy ending, but its nice to hear more than the dripping optimistic bs that is often hard to believe. Yes, he learned a better way to live, but not before falling on his tush.

I did find it a bit deceiving that while the title and cover reference the Back to the Future trilogy, hardly anything from those cult hits is detailed.

There were some quotable lines but since this is a library copy and you can't (shouldn't) mark them, I lost the passages I enjoyed most.

If you should get your hands on this book, please let me know what YOU think. There's not much of a time commitment to it. I found it interesting, but at the same time I'm not exactly itching to read his other books immediately.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Book Review: Trick or Treat

It's another Clubhouse book! I bought it last year around this time at Sams Club. It was packed away in the Halloween box that I brought up from the basement yesterday.

Mickey Mouse takes Hewie, Dewey and Louie trick or treating. Along the way they solve problems using pieces of their costumes. Clarabell hasn't painted her pumpkin yet - i hope they can help! The book uses pictures to prompt the use of the sound buttons on the side.

This book will give Daven practice following along with text. The sound buttons keeps him involved in the story the whole time.

I promise the next book won't be Mickey!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Adam's 10 Year High School Reunion

This weekend was a busy one. It's been the big ten years since Adam graduated from Jeff High and the class of '02 got together to celebrate.

The festivities started Friday evening at 4th St. There was a meet & greet at PBR, and we got in free thanks to a fellow classmate being a manager.

This bar is VERY country and not some place we would ever think about going. But it turned out to be a lot of fun. Adam's parents kept Daven and we were out way past my bedtime!

Saturday was the actual reunion at the Elks Club in Jeff. The food was really good! Everyone at our table was easy-going and friendly, which was a relief. I was thankful that I knew a handful of people going into the night.

I was bad about not taking any pictures, so the only ones I have were taken from other Facebook pages.

I think Adam was glad that we went, and he got to talk quite a while with his friend Ryan who he speaks about frequently but never gets to see.

I am still trying to recover from being on the go this weekend but it was a good time. I hope that my reunion next year will be as nice. Well done, class of '02!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Yogurt Dots

 I'm so irritated.  I've been trying for days to figure out why blogger has put some of my pictures sideways and doesn't give me an option to rotate them.  But instead of nixing the post all together I've left them in the way they are - tilt your head for the full effect.

I can't take credit for coming up with this idea on my own.  Shelby mentioned it to me in a comment on one of the many pics I have on fb with bub.  This particular photo showed Daven with his lemonade rocket pop.  She brought to my attention all the other yummy things we could freeze in the molds and then told me about these yogurt dots.  She had found it on Pinterest, so I'm sure there's already a blog on this out there somewhere, floating in the vast interweb universe.

Daven has loved yogurt since he was a wee one and scarfed the Gerber baby yogurt out of the cups that look like pudding cups.  Lately though, he hasn't really wanted much to do with it, and we had yogurt that needed to be eaten before it expires.  This recipe was just the trick!

Start with yogurt - I used Daven's GoGurt.

Cut a notch in the side and squeeze out until desired size.

If you don't have the squeezy kind of yogurt, Shelbs said to put it in a plastic ziplock baggy and cut a hole in one of the bottom corners.

I decided to add sprinkles, to make them look even more colorful and fun.

Into the freezer they go.  I left them overnight, but I bet if you gave them a few hours they'd be good to go.

The next morning, the dots were ready for snacking.  I used a spatula to scoop them and they came right off.

I really wish these picks of bub were the right angle.  But you can tell, even though he wasn't a fan of clothes that day, he enjoyed the dots.

It's so cute when he asks for them now.  "Eat dots, please".  This was an excellent idea and I'll continue to make more batches of them.  They look like candy, but it's just good 'ole yogurt.

Thanks, Aunt Shelby!