April 2011

Caught Red… I mean Chocolate Handed

It’s moments like this that I feel need to be documented because the older the kids get the less things like this will happen.

When I feed Caroline, I often feel like this is the boys chance to get into mischief. For the most part they stay out of trouble, but it is like they know I am distracted. Caroline was pretty upset, so my focus was on feeding her, and I ask the boys to please stay where I can see them, which usually isn’t a problem. Except for this particular day.

George sits on the other side of the counter, out of my sight, but I can definitely hear him playing with his cars. I also figured, if he got into anything I would hear him or have the “informant” aka Russell report back. Soon, Russell goes out of my line of sight, but I hear him and George playing demolition derby and giggling, so I figure everything is ok. Then suddenly silence. This is when I know they are into something. I stop feeding Caroline, which for anyone who is feeding a baby, to interrupt them is a nightmare. I round the corner, and both boys are elbow deep in an Entemmenn’s chocolate doughnut box. I asked what they were doing, and Russell said they were hungry. Oh well. Doughnuts for dinner never hurt anyone, right? Happy Weekend, Everyone!

I’m a Creative Genius

The window above the sink in the kitchen originally had no window treatment. I didn’t want to do anything right away, because I thought I should live here and shop around for some options before doing something I don’t like. I’m in the kitchen for 80% of the day preparing three meals a day as well as cleaning up said three meals a day. Not to mention, the countless sippy cup refills. The kitchen is pretty much my domain, and I didn’t want to do something that two months from now I would regret. I love all the natural light that comes in the kitchen window, and after a few weeks of living in the new place, I decided I would do cafe curtains. They let a TON of light in and still offer privacy. This is the part that Brian was the most thrilled about. With the lack of trees in the back yard, he was afraid that everyone was watching him load the dishwasher or get a glass of water. Also, cafe curtains would give me that modern/cottage look I’m going for throughout the house. Now that I knew what I wanted to do, the shopping began. I figured I would see what was out there or recruit the help of my dear Mom, who happens to be the designated custom curtain maker of the family. She also gets every catalogue known to man and as I was perusing her Pottery Barn catalogue I saw the following:

I love the oil rubbed bronze rod with matching clip rings. I also love the subtle pattern to the curtains. So the quest began to find something just as cute, but on the cheap. Cue the napkins. Yes, napkins. Not paper napkins, but the most adorable cloth napkins from Target. Yep, that’s right, TARGET!I went there scrounging around for some ideas. I first found the rod and clips. I figured I am going to need them anyway, and the oil rubbed bronze rods were $4.83 a piece. Also, the clips they had to match were about five bucks for a pack of seven. As I am walking around, I am thinking what a pain it is going to be to take a trip after the kids go to bed to a fabric store or try and cart all of them with me to find some fabric that I like. THEN, (cue “Alleluia” song) I walk past the table linen aisle. Miracle of miracles I saw these adorable napkins that compliment the shades of bright white, sculptor clay grey, and rain washed blue already existing in my freshly painted kitchen. I thought 20” x 20” napkins are large enough to make some small curtains, and they are already pre-hemmed. No need for my Mom to help me sew some fabric or do iron on tape a la Young House Love. Although, a phone call to Nana was still made to help me out.So I got home, and with a little help from Mom, hung the rod brackets, clipped the rings to the napkins and hung everything just as things were getting dark and my husband was putting the kids to bed. Ta Da cafe curtains. Total I used four napkins to accommodate the width of my window and to have the wavy ruffly look to them. What about you? Anyone out there every DIY their own curtains? Perhaps out of sheets, table clothes or any other pre-hemmed fabric? Note: Thanks to Pottery Barn’s winter catalogue for the above picture and inspiration.


So, it seems that spring has finally sprung here in the Chicago area. It has been awesome to see the first blooms on our new property. Behind the swimming pool, there is a row of Forsythia bushes that are starting to bloom. Don’t they look gorgeous? I must admit that Brian and I are very excited about the prospect of having a vegetable garden, planting some flowers, and doing a little landscaping. However, we may not enjoy it when we are wheel barrowing pounds of compost into the backyard

As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted a small herb garden, and since I have somewhere to have one now, I planted a few seeds with the help of the boys.

I decided to plant rosemary, chives, basil, and cilantro. Those are my summer staples. I then purchased a BURPEE Eco-Friendly seed starting kit for $19.99 at Target. I liked this option as the directions seemed easy to follow for a first timer like myself (haven’t planted a seed since 3rd grade) and the containers were biodegradable. This way transplanting should be easy and if I want to give some of them away, I don’t have to worry about the containers being thrown in a landfill. I followed the directions on the kit, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was. The boys absolutely loved putting the seeds in the dirt and helping me to water. We even labeled each row of seeds with the label sticks included with the kit. It was Russell’s suggestion to draw a picture.

Now I am just waiting it out. Hopefully, my little seeds will germinate soon, and I can transplant and make my favorite summer Caprese salad with fresh basil. Happy Spring!

Settling ’em in

So just to give you a back story, we sold our two bedroom, two bathroom condo in April of 2010. As you can imagine, in this market we lost a significant amount of money on the place as all the condos in our complex are pretty much all the same. Since we were expecting our third child in September and really couldn’t decide on an area to live, my Mom (often referred to in the blog as Nana) offered for us to come live with her until after our newest addition arrived. We thanked her profusely and moved in for the next 10 months while we looked for our dream home. Fast forward to February 2011. We have kid number three, the renovations to the “new” house are complete and it is time to move the circus… AGAIN. Now two moves in a year could quite possibly rock any kids world, but I must say the kids just took it in stride. Brian and I did try our very best to keep things as “normal” as possible for the munchkins and the routines were very tight while we were making the transition, but it is like they didn’t even know we moved. Here’s how we did it: First things first: any stuff that the kids use daily must be put into an “OPEN FIRST” box. Beds, bedding (unwashed for the familiar smell factor), sippy cups, dishes, clothes, potty chairs, favorite jammies, and toys. Those things were unpacked when we walked in the door. A few days before both moves, I made a list of what we did every day and what the kids favorite toys and books were so that I could make sure those things got packed separately and were put away right away when we arrived to our destination. Secondly, the three areas that were put together first were kids rooms, kitchen, and play area. At Nana’s we didn’t bring any furniture except for the crib, pack and play, and toy shelf. However, all of our own bedding was brought for the kids to be comfortable. Also, in Nana’s kitchen we had a few of our own cabinets for sippy cups and the kids favorite snacks. In Nana’s family room we put up our toy shelf and brought all of their favorite toys. When moving to our “new” house I set up the kids rooms, the kitchen, and the family room so that were completely and totally functional. We have yet to add the “extras” such as art on the walls and finishing touches, but all the areas were functional and comfortable for the little ones upon their first steps into the house. Thirdly, when we talked to the kids, we tried to keep the stress talk of the move to a minimum. We talked about it like it was a new adventure. We talked about how big the backyard is, and how George was going to sleep in a big boy bed. We told them that the new couches were cushy and perfect for watching their favorite shows. When questions were asked about the move we answered them as honestly and positively as possible. Russell’s favorite question was: “What color is my new room?Lastly, we stuck to the routines of the house like glue. Our kids pretty much do the same things every day, but sometimes we do switch it up a bit to accommodate a trip to the zoo or a family event. However, for the first few weeks, the routines of the house were uninterrupted. For example, when the kids wake up we get dressed, eat, drink milk, watch a show, play, eat lunch, take a nap, wake up, eat a snack, play, help make dinner, get jammies on, say our prayers and get into bed. (I know you wish you were me right?) We did what we do every day, but I made sure that we were consistent so that the kids knew that they could be comfortable in their new space and not much was changing other than where we did everything.Ultimately, we just did what made the kids happy, and tried our best to keep them comfortable during this crazy transition.Anyone out there go through a move with kids? How did you do it?

Warm Lunch

Back in February, Chicago and surrounding suburbs experienced the third largest snowfall in recorded history. Since all the schools were called off in our area, including Brian’s, we got to spend a nice family day at Nana’s house before the big move out. Since everyone was home, and Brian spent much of the morning trying to dig us out of Nana’s house to then head over to our new place and dig out, I thought a nice hot comfort food was just what the weatherman ordered. So, I cooked up the kids my favorite comfort food. Home made Macaroni and Cheese. My version has a few little tweaks from the standard, but just as delicious. 1 lb. box whole wheat short cut pasta (Barilla Plus Penne Rigate) 3 c. shredded cheddar (Kraft Shredded Triple Cheddar) 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese 2 Tbs. butter 2 Tbs. all purpose flour 2 c. milk (2% Milk) 1 tsp. dry mustard 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 350 degrees F In a large pot fill with water and put over high heat to boil. In a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour to make a rue. Whisk constantly for about two minutes to get rid of raw flour taste. Whisk in milk and keep on low to medium heat until milk mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Meanwhile, add a few pinches of salt to boiling water and add pasta and cook to packages instructions. When milk mixture is thickened, stir in mustard, nutmeg, and 2 cups of the cheddar cheese. Stir until well incorporated and creamy. Combine pasta and cheese mixture and pour into an oven safe dish and top with remaining cheddar and parmesan. Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes until cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Serve with a small garden salad. Needless to say, the family was very happy to have a hot comfort meal and I was happy to have something for lunch other than a turkey sandwich. What is your family’s favorite comfort food?