Monday, December 31, 2012

Jason's Printable

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how going off birth control doesn't mean you'll instantly get pregnant, like you think it will. Which can be hard because you've decided that you're ready now for a baby, and then it doesn't happen for a while. My sister-in-law also just had a baby while we were visiting for the Christmas holiday (YAY!), which you can see here, so yesterday I was thinking about how all babies, especially those born healthy, are miracles in every way.

I thought about my little miracle, Jason. It was his birthday yesterday - he turned 3! And I realized that I see a miracle every day! He is my walking miracle! So I decided to put that thought on paper to frame. Here it is.

(background paper from Mel Stampz)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cinnamon-Sugar Toast with Nutmeg

Does anyone else eat toast with butter and cinnamon-sugar on top?

Toast has been a long-standing go-to snack in our family (cousins included). I think particularly in the evening. Why? It settles your stomach, it fills that almost-but-not-quite-hungry void before bed without being too heavy, and it's comforting. And all toast has to have butter on it.

Our family eats toast with cinnamon-sugar. Toast with jam. Toast with jam and cheese. (It's actually really, really good. That came from either just my dad or maybe from his side of the family.) Toast with onion powder. Toast with honey and warm milk. (Particularly comforting when you have a cold or aches.) And now, I'd like to introduce toast with cinnamon-sugar ... and nutmeg.

It's like eating toast with apple pie on top. Minus the apples. I was reading on Sarah Britton's blog My New Roots (I love what she does with cauliflower) about the health benefits of certain spices and thought a little nutmeg on my toast-only diet right now might help and would change it up a bit.

For two pieces of toast:
1-2 Tbsp salted stick butter, softened
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and nutmeg. (You can use a spoon, fork, wisk, your finger, or you can just swirl the bowl around so they get mixed together.) Toast your bread to desired toast-iness. Spread one side with real butter. Sprinkle mixture over that. Enjoy those apple pie memories.

Oh, and for toast with jam and cheese: use butter, then strawberry jam, topped with a slice of real cheddar cheese.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Wow. I completely fell off the wagon. It's been over a month since I posted. Woops!

Let me explain. Back in July, I was prepping for my parents' mid-August arrival. My brother Rob with wife Crystal and son Asher were coming too. I had been keeping a running list of projects to do while they were here, but then realized some of them I could just do myself. So I tried to get as many of those smaller projects done before they came so that I wouldn't feel like the list was overwhelming. Here are a few teasers:

That, on top of cleaning everything.

Basically, I got so busy doing projects, cleaning, hosting parties, hosting family, etc that I stopped blogging about it. And the day my parents left, my computer's hard drived died. Completely. ...I wonder if it had anything to do with Jason squirting about a tablespoon of hand soap on the keyboard last month.... Luckily Dave had made a backup image a few months ago, so most of my stuff was saved. PHEW! He put the image on my new hard drive about a week ago. And here I am. Writing this catch-up post. And here you are. Reading it. Much obliged.

It was so great to have them all here. We went from 2 in this small house to 7! Mom & Dad slept in my room, I slept on the futon in the playroom/front room, Rob & Crystal slept in the living room on a big air matress, and Asher slept in a borrowed pack-n-play in the office/craft room. In other words, there was someone sleeping in every room of the house. Except the kitchen, of course.

Jason and Asher had a great time together and even took their regular naps, despite all the extra activity and noise in the house.

Even though these aren't good pictures, I love some of their expressions.

Trying to give each other a high five:

It was about 10 days of projects, projects, projects - taking down my dangerously precarious wood fence, installing a vinyl fence, replacing two light fixtures, making a third light fixture, a couple trips to Ikea, several to Lowe's and Home Depot, putting together two more chairs (so everyone could sit around the dinner table), and hanging a mirror. Wow. On top of that, Rob, Crystal, and Asher took a trip in the middle of those 10 days to visit some of Crystal's family a few hours away in Roosevelt/Vernal. And while in the Vernal area, he also did some concrete work for Crystal's grandparents - repairing a concrete slab in front of their house. And on top of that, Rob was trying to study for a final that he had to take during their stay. An engineering final. Not just some easy-peasy class final. 

This is what my garage looked like at the height of project-ing.

But being the amazing brother that he is, he even squoze (that's the new "squeezed" - it's better, don't you think?) in a game of Zilch. That was probably the highlight of the whole visit. We all played (even Mom!) and had so much fun teasing each other and laughing laughing laughing. Mom and Crystal laughed so hard that they started to cry! It's a great feeling to make people laugh that hard. And my brother's agree - there's something sooo great about being able to make your parents laugh. I have the best family!!

Oh, and we also went out to dinner with the cousins for my birthday (Ashton & Jen, me & Jason, Tiffany & Peter, Dad & Mom, Crystal & Asher) ...

... and met up with some old friends from Toledo for ice cream another night. Yuuuum. (LtoR: Brandon & Lisa Jastel, Jason, me, Ashlynn Jastel, Mom, Ashley & Dan Reyes-Cairo.)

Double Oh! The night my parents were coming in, I hosted a birthday/going away party for Brandon & Lisa and their little girl Ashlynn (she was turning 3). That was a lot of fun too. A few other old Toledo friends showed up for that - Dan & Ashley, Tom and Lovetta Reyes-Cairo, Mike & Rachel Benner. And Jason made sure to walk by the huge double chocolate Costco cake as much as possible so he could swipe the frosting as he passed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Decadent Chocolate Frosty

1 c. chocolate ice cream (Western Family is my favorite, seriously)
3/4 - 1 c. milk*
1 lg avocado
2 Tbsp cocoa powder**
3 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Enjoy!

* Do not use cream. Normally, when a recipe calls for milk, cream is even more decadent and delicious. But this recipe has enough decadence already and the taste of the cream kind of overpowers the other flavors.

** Although the chocolate ice cream isn't healthy, pure cocoa powder, purportedly, is. (So are the avocado and the honey.) Pure cocoa powder (like Clabber Girl's) isn't dutch-processed with alkali. A good thing, since the addition of alkali lowers the natural antioxidant (cancer-fighting) levels of cocoa.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Le Pouf

"Pouf" is the cutest thing I've ever heard Jason say. And if the pouf had turned out to be a disaster, it wouldn't even matter because I'd still get to hear Jason say "pouf". :)

Luckily, it turned out pretty well.

I bet you'll never guess where I got the idea from to do a pouf! Well, I guess I've seen the idea lots of places, but I got the courage to do one from, yep, Young House Love. Specifically here. If you click over there, you'll see she used this Living With Punks tutorial, so that's where I went for instructions, too. The instructions were pretty good. Not every minute detail, like I always think I need, but enough that even an ametuer like me was able to fill in the blanks.

I wanted my pouf to be bigger than the ones in the tutorial, so I changed the measurements and made a 22" diameter top/bottom and a 14" high band, with an 3x7" handle.

My drafting compass (you know, one of those things with a pencil in one end and a point in the other to stick into the paper) wasn't nearly big enough to do a 2-foot circle. Attaching a string to it (similar in concept to making a ring for an outdoor fire pit) wasn't working either. What to do, what to do. Normal people would probably first turn to the internet for a solution. But me? Nohohoho. I "think outside the box". So I tried to find stuff around the house that round and huge. The only thing I had close in size was Jason's IKEA tunnel. Here's how that turned out.

Not perfectly round. I tried to make it work anyway, but it just didn't.

Thankfully, this genius of a woman (The Scientific Seamstress) came up with a circle template for large circles that you could download and print, found here! Yay! Worked much better. Cut out my template...

Placed it on my fabric to make sure it fit...

Realized I'd have to settle for a 22" diameter circle instead of a full 24".
Began tracing...

And then cut out my first circle. Exciting!

I had to use a different fabric for the bottom piece because I only had a yard of the other fabric and it wasn't enough for 2 big circles and everything else. This fabric was from a Moby-type wrap (for carrying babies) that my cousin gave me. She never used it. I never used it. Thus, it got cut up and used for this. But it was the cause of my size restrictions. Also, the fabric is a loose weave (which you can kinda see three shots up), so I don't know how it'll hold up over time, and it made it a little tricky to work with - almost like working with stretchy fabric. Oh well. It's on the bottom and I didn't want to waste good home decor fabric where no one would see it and it'd get beaten up more.

On to the other measuring.

On Living with Punks, I figured out that her band was 3x (+ 1/2") the diameter of her circles. That meant that my band would have to be at least 66.5" long. I think I cut a total of 67" just to be safe. Had to cut it out in two sections to create that length. (This picture is just to kind of show how I did my markings.)

My sewing ruler thing is only 12", and I wanted my pouf to be taller than that. I marked where the 12" lines were, but with the fabric that was left after cutting out the circle and doing two strips instead of just one long one, I only had room for another 2" of height. See the line below?

I didn't take any pictures of the fabric all cut out or any of the pieces coming together as I sewed. Sorry. I was on too much of a get-it-done kick and it was always late in the evening which means bad pictures anyway. But if you go to Living With Punks, she has all that for you.

That just means I can skip to the chase! Here's the final product!

Oh wait. That's not the 100% final product. This is at about 95%.

I had filled it with an entire 2 cu. ft.  bag of small styrofoam balls through about a 6" opening.


Seemed like it would be pretty quick. Nope. Took about an hour and a half. Even with it all in there, it wasn't as full as I wanted it to be. Fortunately, I had an old sleeping pillow that had been through Jason/the wash so many times that it lost all natural pillow shape, renduring it useless as a pillow to sleep on but ideal for pouf filling. *cha-ching*

Sliced that baby open, cut some chunks of batting off, and shoved them into the center of my pouf, amidst the styrofoam. Then I hand sewed the opening shut, which, although imperfect, I'm pretty proud of.

Now on to the less than pretty-proud-of spots.

And there's one more that I didn't take a picture of. Clearly, I had a little trouble with having too much fabric in some spots. Eh *shrug* oh well. (That last one looks like a little tail. Haha) But there are other things I'm proud of too.

The cording is supposed to overlap and look just like that. Yay! And the handle is probably my favorite because I got it to blend so well with the pattern.

And now for the final finals.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Quinoa for Breakfast or Dessert!

I first heard of quinoa (pronounced keen-wa, thank you Wendy :) ) my sophomore year in college, almost 10 years ago (yikes). Professor Terry (brother of the Terry's in Perrysburg) had been studying it / doing research on it down in some remote parts of Mexicio or South America. He talked about it a lot, but back then, I had no connection to it. Now, of course, it's one of those superfoods that health nuts are all excited about. Okay, not just health nuts. Lots of people, me included.

Tonight I tried to do something Indian with it, that did not turn out well. Luckily I had some plain, cooked quinoa left so I made a much tastier dessert with it, that would work well for breakfast too.

Fruity Quinoa Yogurt
1 serving

1/2 c. cooked quinoa
1 4-oz container vanilla yogurt (my favorite is Activia's vanilla)
1/2-1 tsp honey
1/2 c. chopped fruit (strawberries, bananas, raspberries, grapes ... any fruit would work I think)

Stir ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!

-You'd think the yogurt and the fruit would have enough sugar in them to make the whole thing sweet, but quinoa has a definite savory element to it, which I think tastes better when masked by a little honey. Start with 1/2 tsp and see how you like it. I like closer to 1 tsp best.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Painted Counters - Chapter 3

This is where I left you hanging on the edge of your counter seat:

Although I contemplated leaving it like this - I just didn't know if I had it in me to do it again and possible ruin it again - I kind of wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and do it right. So I sanded it to get off any excess bits of gunk and smooth it out.

Ironically, Jason seemed to accept the painters tape as just part of the counter and not mess with it. That is, right up until the time that I actually needed it again. For maybe 7 months, while I put the whole counter project on hold, he didn't even notice the tape! But when I started working on the counters again, that's when he decided to rip off all the tape every. single. day. I'd retape every night I worked on it, and the next day, he'd take it all off. Oy. And of course, the more you ask him not to, the more he wants to.

But I plugged on ahead. Priming...


And more and more priming. Oh, and before each new coat of primer, I sanded with 320 grit paper and then wiped it clean with a damp cloth. Sanding between coats means better adhesion for the next coat of paint, which helps the paint job last a long time without chipping, etc. Check out Janelle Beals for more info that. Tip: sand in circular motions! It makes the scratches less visible.

Can you tell how it's not a solid, even white? I kind of needed it to be since I wasn't going over it with solid white paint. I was just going to be dabbing on some gray.

I'm not sure if it was bleed-through or if dark hunter green is just a hard color to cover up with white primer. I'm guessing the latter, because I don't think laminate does bleed through like stained wood does. Eventually I called it good enough and started dabbing. With these colors.

Side note: pictures are either fuzzy, off-colored, or in black & white because all of these were taken around midnight in my dimly lit kitchen, and b&w was the only way to get gray to show up well.

First dabs...

More dabbing...

Getting there...

And it's done!! Here it is in afternoon light, from a million different angles :).

The last step was to coat it a few times with Minwax Polycrylic. With super fine-grit sanding and wiping before the first coat and in between each coat. I discovered that Polycrylic doesn't go on smoothly with foam rollers - it leaves teeny tiny bubbles all over. But that's how I left it. I was just glad to be DONE. One day I'll sand again and do one more coat with a brush, for a hopefully smoother finish. Whenever I get the umph to do it, I'll ammend this with another little post. And some day long after that, I'll paint the cabinets a light gray. The honey color they are now isn't my thing and it doesn't look great with the new white counter. Someday. Someday.

While I'm not going to pretend it looks *just like granite!* like it's supposed to, I do like it better than the green. And I love that I actually did it! finished it! And it doesn't look half bad, if I do say so myself!




For how it all went down: Chapter 1, Chapter 1.2, and Chapter 2.