Friday, January 30, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 4

Monday, Audrey dug this bowl out of one of the kitchen cabinets and immediately turned it into a hat of sorts. To me, it looks as if she is doing one of two things: trying to give a modern-chrome edge to the conical hats more commonly seen on Asian rice farmers, or she's about to go looking for a bag of Reese's Pieces and a device to phone home.

On Monday, she also started a new trend of pulling my hand away when I rest it on my face and telling me "no-no." Has she been talking to my dermatologist?

Tuesday, we spent some time playing at a neighbor's house. When I told Audrey it was time to go back to our house, she refused to put on her coat, took off her hat and shoes that I had just put on, and hid in the neighbor's playroom. I thought I was going to have to drag her the two hundred meters home. Then we got outside into the falling snow and she spent the entire walk laughing as she watched snow fall on my face and her coat and felt it hit her cheeks.

This morning, as I was going through our usual morning oatmeal routine, I grabbed a bowl for Audrey out of the cabinet. As I turned to carry it to the island (while also carrying Audrey), she patted me on the back and said, "Don't drop it." Seriously, who has she been talking to? Or, has she already had enough experience with me these brief two years to know the warning is warranted?

But, before I could get the oatmeal to the table, she had one more gem for me. I was getting her vitamin and my vitamin out of our medicine box (a recycled popcorn box on a really high shelf - I know, so high-tech), and I finally gave into a headache that I had not been able to rid myself of with sleep and grabbed the Excedrin. She took the bottle out of my hand, said, "Daddy's vitamins" and threw it back in the box. Ahem...

Hope you are all staying warm and safe. Have a good weekend filled with your own little gems.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Celebrating the One

32 Reasons to Celebrate Jason:
1. Birds dig him.
2. He always offers me the last sip of his hot chocolate.
3. He opens my car door.
4. When I don't feel like it, he does my math.
5. Not a day goes by that he doesn't tell me I'm beautiful, perfect, or that he loves me.
6. Not a day goes by that he doesn't tell Audrey that she's beautiful, smart, or that he loves her.
7. He took apart a couch we weren't using and turned it into a fort.
8. There was a time when we lived 3 states apart and he would see me off to the airport with fresh bread he had made himself.
9. Before he makes fun of me, he makes fun of himself.
10. He went outside while I was complaining about how cold it was and strung the Christmas lights.
11. He seems prouder of my accomplishments than I am.
12. He can walk on his hands and make cool spreadsheets, but not at the same time.
13. He shares bath duty and story time.
14. He makes a mean omelet.
15. He loved me when I was scrawny with braces and frizzy hair (oh, wait - I still have frizzy hair).
16. He says thank you when I make dinner.
17. It should not be humanly possible to recite that many Weird Al lyrics, even for Weird Al.
18. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive.
19. He eats the burnt pancakes.
20. He makes killer animal noises.
21. When I got stung by a jellyfish, he offered to pee on me - and then didn't.
22. No matter how much he has, he has always given to others.
23. He makes even the worst days better.
24. He takes on responsibility like he's 50 and plays like he's 12.
25. He can pull off a mohawk.
26. He finds joy in the simple things: White Castles, tossing a football around, the return of "Lost" and "Chuck."
27. He owns up to his mistakes.
28. When you own up to your mistakes, he usually takes half the blame to make you feel better, whether he deserves to or not.
29. He gives great hugs.
30. He makes people laugh, even those who make it a habit not to.
31. If he had super powers, he would use them for good.
32. Today he turns 32. If you see him, give him a squeeze and tell him "Happy Birthday."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter White

My toddler doesn't share my views on hibernation. She spent the morning peeking out the window at the foot of freshly fallen snow, making clear her intentions to go "out (where it was) raining snowmen." Attempting to keep her occupied until her Dad could get home to partake in her first big snow outing, we got busy making a little something white and fluffy of our own - indoors-style. Audrey decided to put her own, ahem, touch on things. Let's hope her Dad doesn't mind. We finished up the cake (made for our favorite guy) just as he got home and started pulling out our snow gear. Somewhere in the middle of piling on the gloves, hats, and snow pants, I shed my hibernation hum-bug and started looking forward to heading out in the cold. What can I say, there's something about a two-year-old sporting a snowsuit and ponytail that just gets me.

Winter White: Inside

Winter White: Outside

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Go-To Bread

When the temperature drops below 20 degrees (who am I kidding?, when the weather drops below 40) I go into hibernation mode, which goes something like this: avoid leaving the house, even to go to the mailbox (even if I haven't gone to the mailbox in days); try to convince Audrey that any activity is more fun when done under a mound of blankets; and eat as much warm food in a day as possible (especially homemade bread and hot chocolate). In an effort to make my hibernation complete yesterday, I dug out our bread machine and got to work tossing together the ingredients of what has become our go-to bread. This bread was a happy accident invented when I was trying to make some bread to go with soup and wanted to sneak in some good-for-you ingredients. I combine all the ingredients into the bread machine and then let it run on it's dough cycle, because as much as I'd like to knead my own bread, I had some much more important kneading to get back to yesterday.

So here it is, Kristin's Go-To Bread:
Drop into the bread machine in this order:
1 c. lukewarm water
1 egg
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. white whole wheat flour
1/4 c. oat flour
1 Tbsp. flax seed mill
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. dry milk
1/4 c. butter cut into pieces
1 1/2 tsp. yeast
Run bread machine on the dough cycle. When the cycle is complete, spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and shape the dough into a mound on the sheet. Cover dough with a hand towel and let sit for 20-30 minutes until it's grown some in size. (I don't know why - if there are any bread gurus out there you can tell me, but if we let the dough rise longer than 30 minutes, it changes the flavor a bit). Preheat oven to 375 degrees while the bread rises. Bake the bread for about 20 minutes, or until it is nice and golden brown on top. Enjoy!

We love this bread with soup, but last night we had it with pasta, and we have also used the day-old leftovers to make really thick french toast. I hope it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. I'm off to find some blankets!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hey, Sugar!

We had to get out (of the house that is): somewhere warm enough for us to walk and let Audrey stretch her legs while tethered to a leashed harness masquerading as a monkey backpack. Is there any other way to travel? So Saturday, we headed to an indoor mall with lots of room to exercise the longest and shortest legs among us.

We perused the home furnishing stores, I bagged two sweaters and a shirt on the cheap, and Jason ogled a SONY while Audrey made friends with every stranger she met. We discovered a zoo indoors when Audrey spotted some fish swimming across a floor-model television and Jason spied a set of circus pancake molds shaped like elephants, lions, and monkeys at Williams-Sonoma, which sadly had sold out two hours before we arrived. But this sadness quickly abated when I discovered recipe cards free for the taking with dishes like Chicken and Artichoke Skillet Lasagna, Pulled Pork Biscuit Sliders (could this be more Jason?), and Waffle S'mores. I quickly pocketed nine while watching the sales ladies out of the corners of my eyes and wondering if they found me to be something of a recipe whore.

Heading out of the mall with our appetites much closer than our house, we spotted a Blondies Cookies. We stopped. We smelled. We got taken. We each picked out a sweet treat: a brownie for Jason, a chocolate chip cookie for Audrey, and an iced sugar cookie for me. The lady behind the counter stacked them up on a scale and pronounced them worth a cool $6.02. I thought, for $3 more, I just bought a sweater.

So what do you do with a $2 cookie? You savor it. You chew. A lot. You try bites of each others' cookies and savor them. You claim you picked the best cookies/brownies in the entire store, possibly the universe. You reminisce about a small chocolate shop in your hometown (long out-of-business) that you used to walk to as a kid with a few dollars in your pocket and buy chocolates with your friends. The whole experience seemed magical: a shop that smelled entirely of freshly melted and crafted chocolate, rows of chocolate individually skirted in their own wrappers, the ones you chose tucked into a golden box with a golden bow, you leaving the store feeling as if you had just found the golden ticket. You talk about how all specialty chocolate and cookie shops have this affect on you. And then you stop talking to savor the last bite.

But before you do any of this, you take a picture with your camera phone because, you know, it last longer.

And to all of you who have had such kind words about this new blog venture of mine, I thank you. I feel as though someone has just handed me a lovely heart-shaped confection, with icing on top. :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 3

On Wednesday, I walked into Audrey's room to find this neat little row of shoes spread across the floor. Lately, one of her favorite books is Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang. One page reads, "7 empty shoes in a short straight row." She didn't quite get the straight part, but she did manage to match the illustration by ending with one shoe missing its mate.

Audrey's middle name is Paige, which I love, so I tend to refer to her as Audrey Paige on a frequent basis. I have also made up lyrics to the tune of "Brother John" that start with "Audrey Paige." It dawned on me this week that I need to start adding our last name into the equation a little more when she started referring to me as Mama Paige and Jason as Daddy Paige.

While perusing the aisles of Target on Sunday, Jason ran across a price tag which elicited a response of "holy crap!" Audrey, being the sponge that she is, began repeating "holy crap, holy crap, holy crap" broken-record style. While Jason taught her to say "holy moley," instead, I excused myself to the next aisle to get my laughter in check. I need to work on my bad cop face. Right now it's a little more reminiscent of Barney Fife.

On Monday, while we were coloring at that kitchen table, Audrey faked a neck injury. It started with her telling me she had a "neck boo-boo." Then, she grabbed my hand and put it on the back of her neck. I played along and massaged the back of her neck while she repeated, "oh man, oh man."

photo by Audrey
Yesterday, as I was trying to snap some photos of Audrey in her playroom, she had other ideas. She grabbed the camera and started playing with it's features. To keep her from playing with parts that she shouldn't, I showed her which button to push to take a picture. Once I let my hands off the camera (albeit, a bit mortified, I'm 30 and have broken 2 really nice cameras in the past 7 years - she has 50% of my DNA, odds for the camera aren't good), this is the picture she took. I have to say, there's something about it I just love.
I won't write about the mess I found in her room this morning, because that's one thing I'm better off forgetting. But I will say, thank God for inventing the person who invented steam cleaners. Holy Moley!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Art Mimicking Life

With the abundance of white lying outside my door, I seem to be drawn to the few shades of green inside, especially the leaves of this calla lily. I'm fascinated by the way the leaves come into being, emerging cocoon-like from the stalk until a new stalk is formed and the leaf uncurls like a flag that has been tightly rolled against a pole. They look delicate and strong at the same time. Like me, they like to take their time. I appreciate how long it takes the leaves to open up as if they are unveiling a great mystery that they wish to hold onto as long as possible; I hope that Audrey grows the same way, unveiling little pieces of herself slowly, letting me savor the leaves she has already unwrapped and hold onto them as long as I can.

So it is probably no surprise that leaves and petals are starting to show up in my latest projects. I received this great book, Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin as a Christmas gift (Thanks, Cheryl!). The book is written by a New York-based textile designer and illustrator. She gives step-by-step instructions on how to create your own stamps, stencils, and silk screens using a number of materials and methods to print on just about anything: paper, fabric, wood, sheetrock. A number of projects and patterns to complete them are included.

While my dream is to teach myself to silk screen some artwork to hang above our fireplace (do you remember that huge blank white space above the mantle just screaming for attention?), I started with the project of creating personalized stationery, printed with a foam stamp of my own design. I'm not sure what my next project will be, but I'm going to start small and let this new art form unravel slowly before me, one leaf at a time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Internal GPS

Have you ever gone the wrong way on purpose? Today, I did. Upon leaving the children's museum, twice that voice in my head said "turning here will send you in the direction of home," but I was never in the right lane to make an easy turn. Instead of trying to squeeze my way in and force a turn, I kept straight until I had driven several blocks and a right turn was easy. [My hope was that since I was working with numbered streets, I wouldn't be lost for long]. I passed a college I had never seen before with beautiful old buildings. A civic theatre with a roof reminiscent of Spanish tile looked as if it had been plucked from the southern hemisphere and placed in a snow globe. Had I taken either of those first turns, I would have missed those views that made me take a few more deep breaths, pay a little more attention to my surroundings, and gave me more time to linger on the sweet snapshots in my mind from the day: Audrey's surprise at getting a cheekful of water when she misjudged the drinking fountain, her wide smile on the carousel, and her giggles when splashing herself with water from the Scienceworks exhibit. And while it added a few minutes to our trip, sometimes you have to ignore the price of gas, or the voice in your head telling you you need to get somewhere, and enjoy the sunshine and your content toddler before the moment passes you by. Sometimes a wrong turn is just right.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Do I Look Like I'm Wearing a Laundry Bag?

Do you remember this laundry bag?

Does it look like I'm wearing it?

This is the Pin Tuck Skirt featured in the Winter 2008 edition of Stitch magazine. The pattern is by a Seattle-based designer, Beki Wilson. This was the ideal project to reacquaint myself to sewing clothing - not too overwhelming, but with a nice modern edge to keep me interested. I'm guessing that the fabric is cotton. I used yellow thread to make the pin tucks pop (and because I had this yellow shirt in mind). And while the stitching is not perfect, a free skirt (ok, I paid $2.50 for the zipper) seems quite perfect, indeed. For those of you thinking of pulling out the sewing machine after a long hiatus, or sitting in the driver's seat of one for the first time, I highly recommend it. Like riding a bike my friends, like riding a bike.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hello Sweet Goodness

After letting her know there was some interest on my blog, my very generous neighbor, Julie, said I could post her recipe for Banana Oatmeal Cookies. We love these at my house, and if I think about how the sugar and butter are spread out over a lot of cookies, then I feel pretty good that I'm sneaking in some fruit and oats while my little one thinks she's just getting dessert. So without further ado, here is the recipe:

Grandma Ruth's Banana Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 c. flour*
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 c. shortening**
1 egg, well beaten
1 c. (3 medium) mashed bananas
1 3/4 c. oats

Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in shortening.*** Add egg, bananas, and rolled oats. Mix well. Drop by teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake on 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.****

Kristin's baking footnotes:
* For an extra added kick of whole grains, I sometimes substitute 1/2 c. of the all-purpose flour for white whole wheat flour.
** I use butter.
*** I don't own a pastry cutter. To "cut" my butter into the cookies, I cut it up into small pieces and then use a whisk mortar and pestle style to pound on the butter pieces until the batter has a grainy texture.
**** The timing all depends on your oven. I start checking my cookies around 9 minutes. I think last time I made these I cooked them for 10 minutes.

Happy Baking!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review

Audrey has really been catching onto her colors lately. (The colored lights in her playroom have been a great teaching tool this season). Tuesday night at the dinner table, Jason was pointing out things in the room asking Audrey what color they were. Each correct response was followed by the two of them throwing their hands up touchdown-style and a round of high-fives.

Most of our mornings start with a request by Audrey for a dance. I sway and spin her around the room while I make the two of us bowls of oatmeal with cinnamon, brown sugar, and dried cranberries. Twice this week, she has announced "Ahh-doo (her version of her first name) help mama" while grabbing the cinnamon and giving it a wicked shake. Good thing we don't shy away from flavor in the morning!

At two, I think that Audrey might be well on her way to developing a much better sense of direction than her mama. While driving to a store we frequent, my thoughts were elsewhere and I didn't make our usual right turn. I could have sworn she pointed at the appropriate place to turn and said "store." But, I chocked it up to bad hearing or a mother's tendency to think her average child is a genius. I took the next right which passes by one of our favorite Mexican spots. As we passed the restaurant, Audrey pointed and said, "beans" (which is what our little vegetarian chooses to eat there). Maybe she does have a little spatial genius to her, after all.

And my favorite moment of the week:
As Audrey was splashing around in the bathtub, I decided to try to catch up on some emails. Sitting on the stool she stands on to brush her teeth, I had my laptop in my lap and my feet propped up on the toilet. Audrey looked at my feet and said, "Oh honey. Sticker. On foot." She leaned over, pulled it off, and (I swear) gave a little sigh of sorts. I relayed all of this to my friend, via email. As I'm writing, "Now I ask you, who's the 30-year-old and who's the two-year-old," Audrey leans back over and puts the sticker back on my foot. "Oh wait," I wrote, "...she's back to being the two-year-old."

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I've noticed some things piling up around the house.

So, while my little one was busy creating her own pile,

I got down to business.

I made the banana bread using a recipe from the 11th edition of a Better Homes and Garden Cookbook. The cookies are Grandma Ruth's Banana Oatmeal Cookies. She's not my Grandma Ruth, but I'm lucky enough to have a neighbor willing to let me in on the family recipe. :)

And now I'm back to having more piles. Hmm...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Huge sweater. Big Hat. aka. The Street Urchin Look

I put this sweater on Audrey one day last week when it felt cold in the house. When I turned around, she had found my hat and added it to the ensemble. I remember wearing something similar when I played one of Fagan's kids in "Oliver Twist." Only, I think my outfit had holes in it. Gotta love this kid's style.

This sweater is the first thing I attempted to knit for Audrey. It's the simple sweater pattern in Easy Baby Knits by Claire Montgomerie. This book has been really instrumental in teaching myself to knit. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I made the sweater in the 12-18 month-old-size. Audrey is two. Hmm...

The yellow yarn is Dolcetto Yellow from Sensations Bellezza Collection Dolcetto, the brown is Lion Cashmere Blend in Camel, and the cream is Lion Cashmere Blend in Cream.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pattern Pieces

This weekend, I cut out pattern pieces for a skirt featured in Stitch magazine. It's been awhile since I've attempted to sew clothing for myself (and by awhile, I mean over a decade), so I'm not really sure how this is going to (or if it will) turn out.

But I ran across my sister's old laundry bag from college in a "destined for Goodwill" pile at my parents' house and decided to try to give it new life (and myself a new skirt).

What is it about fabric spread out on the floor that draws little feet of all kinds to it?

Oh, one more thing, on the off-(and highly possible)chance that this skirt doesn't turn out, we're going to pretend this blog never happened. ;)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas Remnants

This weekend, I took down the last of the indoor Christmas decorations (other than some lights in Audrey's playroom, which she finds too magical for us to take down). As I got ready to stow these lights, I thought of other magical moments I wanted to revisit before they get stowed away in my memory.

In an attempt to not make the fast food drive-thru a family tradition this Christmas Eve en route from Grammy's house, we whipped up a quick plan to make blueberry pancakes when we got home. To Christmas them up a little, we poured the batter into greased star and gingerbread man-shaped cookie cutters set on the griddle. (In full disclosure: these are the only 4 we made before returning to our usual pouring methods. While we loved how they turned out, they were taking a little more time/work than Christmas Eve allows). Audrey loved her star pancakes so we'll have to figure out a more efficient method for next year.

Here is Audrey trying out her handmade gift (and her hand-me-down spatula and new kitchen sink), the knitted dress from Easy Baby Knits by Claire Montgomerie. The red yarn is Bellezza Collection Cosetta from Sensations. Audrey had witnessed me working on the dress so often that she said, "Mama's" when she unwrapped it and handed it over to me. Hmm...

We hope that your holiday season was filled with moments/things too magical to stow for long.

Friday, January 9, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review

On Wednesday, Audrey led me into the family room and told me to go "night, night." Not one to baulk at requests that I sleep, I instantly followed instructions. As I "napped," Audrey emptied out a kitchen drawer, covering me in all our tablecloths and placemats repeating, "Mama blanket on."

This week, Audrey has taken to calling me "honey"(swapped out with the occasional "sweetie"). This occurs most often following a request, such as "Dance first, honey?" but has also been tagged onto some farewells, "Night, honey, " "See you, sweetie."

Right now, nothing tops the charts at our house like Mermaids, Dinosaurs, and Sharks. After becoming a huge fan of "The Little Mermaid," Audrey has topped her own charts with a made-up song that goes something like this "Mer-maid singing NOW" repeated as many times as necessary. Monday, I decided to jive up the song a bit, just to see how my little songbird took to the changes. What followed was a game of sorts, me singing the song and Audrey trying to cut me off as soon as possible with a scrunched nose, pointed finger, and enthusiastic "no-no!" followed by lots of laughter.

Out of nowhere, she also began using (correctly, I might add) the phrase, "Oh boy." I think she picked it up at a party at my parents' house.

And, just this morning, she began running her hand up and down one of the columns that splits our kitchen and family room, saying "Nice. Wow." Gotta love a toddler who appreciates good architecture.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Monkey Business

This hat was made and just dropped off at the post office with one special soon-to-be-five-year- old in mind. Do five-year-olds check blogs? Let's hope that this one doesn't. Regardless, we hope he has a great birthday and enjoys his new hat.

And just in case you're wondering how this hat works, here is Audrey getting her monkey on. (Does this picture remind anyone else of "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil")? Here's to being five, and here's to taking a little time out to monkey around, regardless of the date on your birth certificate.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Color Me Happy

Jason and I rang in the New Year donning our best paint clothes and brushes while giving our family room a fresh look. As I watched fireworks from my window atop a seven-foot ladder playing Detail/Edger Girl with my trusty angle brush, Jason served as my sidekick, Roller Boy. (Hey, it's my blog, I'm the one who gets the sidekick). Ok, as usual, he did most of the heavy lifting, er...rolling, and after a mere THREE coats our room looks like the photo above. While we liked the cheery disposition of the yellow that was there before (which can still be found throughout the rest of the house) there is something hard to resist about a color that looks like hot cocoa mixed with milk. For those interested, the color is Eddie Bauer Bamboo. New Year. New look. Seems about right. Now let's go get cozy.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Come Peek Inside

After contemplating it for several years, then repeatedly saying I was going to do it (and not doing it), and being asked a couple times by former roommates when I was actually going to do it, I'm finally putting fingers to keyboard and pulling the cyber trigger. Welcome to my blog, Window to Whimsy.

Why the name? I hope to use this space to share the projects I'm working on and the small things I stumble upon each day that inspire me to think a little more about the magic of the everyday and a little less about that pile of dishes awaiting me. As I look out my window for inspiration, I'm inviting you to look into this one and share a little whimsy with me.

So go ahead, take a peek!