January 25, 2010

The Forest Smells Like Fruit Snacks

"Oh the wind is lashing lusterly
And the trees are thrashing thrusterly
And the leaves are rustling gusterly
So it's rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubteadly
Looks like a rather blustery day today"
-- from Winnie the Pooh's A Rather Blustery Day
As the song might suggest, we've had some wind around here lately. Wind to rival even Winnie the Pooh's. By this morning, Caleb and I were pretty done with it. So we flew south this afternoon in an effort to escape it.
South Whidbey State Park is one of our favorite spots on the Island when we're in the mood for a drive. It's also provided a haven for me when I want to get away from the weather. The trees must pack themselves extra densely around that part of the Island, because no matter how hard the wind blows, we can hike in perfect calm. We may still hear the wind and see it swaying the tops of the trees, but on the trail far below, there is peaceful stillness.
I love it. :)
So does Caleb.

We hiked the Discovery Trail. It was pretty muddy, due to the recent rains, but that didn't stop Caleb; he ran his little legs off, falling every so often from the sheer force of his propulsion. A small stream winds through these woods, crisscrossing the Discovery Trail twice. Caleb loves that stream, and the two bridges we get to walk over along the way.
So there we were today, playing with the water, enjoying the sunshine and non-windy-ness. I stopped to breath in the pine needles, the wet leaves, the moss and mud. Instead I sniffed . . . fruit snacks?
I turned around and there behind me stood Caleb, grimy hand outstretched with a gummy happy face stuck between his teeth.
"Mor? Mor snack?"
That was my Mommy Moment today. :)
This has been Mommy Moments with Nicole. Tune in next time to hear Nicole say:
"No Caleb! Don't lick the lichen!"
In other news . . .

I found a really amazing website this morning. Allyl over at La Petite Maison is really to blame; she sent me a Multiple Choice Correspondence a while back and today I finally surfed the web address of the company on the back of the card. It's called Knock Knock and they specialize in stationery -- very creative, humorous, and laugh out loud funny stationery. Here are a few examples:

To Don't Notepad. The description on the website reads:

"Our busy lives are filled with optimistic compendiums of things to do, but in reality, these ambitious lists fall prey to avoidance, delay, shirking, and sabotage. Be honest with yourself from the get-go, and you’ll never be disappointed!"

We Need to Talk Sticky Notes
"With our ultra-witty yet oh-so-useful Cubicle Notes, office communication has finally caught up with the sticky revolution. Express yourself the fill-in-the-blank way, then make it stick."

Paper E-Mail Notepad

"Paper E-mail is not only cordless and wireless, it revives a revolutionary form of communication: handwriting. Soon even bloggers will be wielding a pen!"

No chance of a mistaken “reply all”!

Aren't they hilarious???

Thanks, Allyl!! I never would have found them without you! :) There are many, many more notepads, books, journals, and sticky notes to be chuckled over, so I encourage you to check them out.

(Be warned, though: the website also contains some more, um, adult humor items. Nothing explicit or R-rated, but definitely PG-13. Just so's ya know . . . )

The nerd in me especially loved the Paper E-Mail. :) I may have ordered an item or two. Or three or four. I'll never tell. But I will say I am Knock Knock's newest fan. :)

Hope you all had a great Monday!

January 19, 2010

Mornings with Starbucks and God

Early morning sunshine. 50 degrees. Caleb hugs and kisses as he says Bye-Bye at school.

Starbucks breakfast. Clouds rolling in. Sun plays peek-a-boo.

Quiet moment on the beach. Quiet time with God.



Proverbs speaks.

"To man belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue."
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed."
"In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps."
"The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord."

Walking on the sand. Stepping on the rocks.

Praying. Seeking. Hoping.

The day calls.

Powder sugared mountains. No more sun. Rainy, muddy puddles.

Busyness. Plans. Work to be done.

Driving on the asphalt. Phone calls. Noise.

But still a little quiet, where I most need it to be.

January 13, 2010

The Girl in the Plaid Poncho

I need y'all to help me settle a dispute with my husband. Not over money or what TV show to watch. Over this poncho/shawl/jacket thing:

See why I need help? I don't even know what to call it! It zips up in the front and has a hood, but no sleeves. Well, whatever you call it, I think it's the most beautiful plaid weave wool thing I have ever seen.

Therein lies the dispute. When I spotted this in an antique store window a couple weeks ago, I was instantly smitten. That looks very Scottish, I thought. I liked it. I liked it a lot. I envisoned myself a bonnie wee lass, cavorting around the countryside in the colors of my clan.

Except when I brought it home today and wore it for Jason, we (the shawl and I) did not receive the reception I expected. He smiled, smirked, and tried (unsuccessfully) not to laugh. out. loud. Scottish lass? Not quite. Jason says I look like I've been out camping.

Or maybe like a mountain woman living in a log cabin. (Not a bad comparison, since one of my lifelong dreams is to live in a log cabin someday).

However, since Mountain Woman and Camper Chick ARE NOT the look I was going for, we now have ourselves a friendy disagreement. :) If you look to your right (and perhaps scroll down a bit) you will find a poll asking you for your opinion on the subject.

Oh, and I should add that the picture above was taken by my brother-in-law, who says I look most like a Christmas Elf in my new shawl/jacket/poncho (thanks, Mike!). So I put his two cents into this poll as well.

Now if you would be so kind, vote! And vote honestly! We spar in good fun here, and I don't really care if y'all think I look like a rubber ducky in an Easter dress; I love my new plaid shawl, my new plaid shawl loves me, and even the harshest criticism will not part us.

January 10, 2010

Animals On Parade or, The Start of a New Tradition

First, because I know y'all are gonna ask, Yes, Caleb's birthday was last weekend.

Yes, I already wrote a fun birthday post just for him.

Yes, we were supposed to celebrate it with the family a week ago.

However, that did not happen.

We were still recovering from Christmas last weekend, and with other family stuff going on, we decided to postpone the Caleb Cupcake Celebration until today. (Hey, my kid doesn't even what a birthday is at this point -- it's not like he's missing out on anything ;)

So after church today, I got my baking butt in gear and created an edible animal birthday parade with Caleb's favorite snack food:

I used yellow, red, and blue paper liners, a chocolate cake box mix, vanilla frosting, animal crackers, and sprinkles. Mmmmmmm . . . don't they look like they belong in a circus?

We'll add the candles later.

Happy Birthday to you! You live in a zoo! You look like a monkey, AAAAaaaaannnnndddd . . .
Sorry, I sorta get carried away when I bake. It's the sugar rush talking.
Anyway. Today is special for another reason. While we celebrate Caleb's day of birth tonight, we are also starting a new tradition.
When Jason and I found out we were pregnant (almost four years ago!), we knew we'd have a holiday baby. My due date was December 30th. And even though he came late, Caleb's birthday still falls pretty close to Christmas and New Year's. This presents problems.
Who really wants to host a birthday party right on the heels of the biggest holiday of the year? Who's around to attend, anyway? People travel, kids are out of school, the weather turns nasty. Let's face it: a late-December, early January birthday is not ideal. So Jason and I decided we'd do something different with Caleb.
And this year, 2010, will mark the first year we implement the strategy we came up with four years ago.
We are not going to celebrate Caleb's birthday on January 3rd.
Oh, we'll have a family dinner and I'll make cake (like I did tonight). But no party. No presents. No friends over, no decorations.
All the traditional birthday hoopla will wait until late June, when we throw him a Happy Half-Birthday celebration. Then, at the beginning of the summer with no major holidays to contend with, we will send out the invites, buy the gifts, and decorate the house.
I'm really excited to try out the half-birthday idea this year. Even the grandparents are on board; as long as Kim and Helen get to sing him a very very un-birthday, they're good. :)
So tonight we shall eat cake and ice cream, watch the season premier of Chuck, and in a few months, I'll start planning a real birthday party. Hopefully I'll have recovered from Christmas by then. :)

January 9, 2010

2010: The Year of the Cupcake

I had planned to drive into Mount Vernon this afternoon for a Costco trip; we're running low on ground beef. I take Proverbs 31:14 very literally when it says "she is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar." A 45 minute drive off-island counts as "afar", right?

Kidding, kidding. But hey! it made Jason laugh.

Oh I crack myself up . . .


After a busy morning with the Bud, and nearly falling asleep watching Reba this afternoon, I decided Costco would have to wait. Instead, I baked Chocolate Gingerbread cookies. I will remember 2009 for many reasons (like, you know, the whole move to Washington thing), but my burgeoning love for all things baked will certainly be the sweetest.

Friends and family have picked up on this new hobby of mine and with Christmas conveniently at hand, pitched in to help feed my addiction, er, uh, broaden my horizons.

It started with this day calendar from Lindsay.

Every day gives a new cupcake recipe (with photo) or a variation of a recipe. Yesterday was Chocolate Mud Cupcakes. Today is a variation: Raspberry Mud Cupcakes. Tomorrow? I don't know. But I'm betting it includes the word Mud and calls for lots of chocolate. :)

Pretty nifty, eh?

Then my dad sent me Martha Stewart's Cupcakes a few days after Christmas. As if the calendar itself wasn't going to send me into a sugar coma . . .

I haven't made one single thing from it yet, but a list is forming of all the recipes I want to to try: flourless chocolate cupcakes, blackberry-cornmeal cupcakes, lavedner-iced brownie cupcakes, S'mores cupcakes, and candied sweet potato cupcakes.
Is anyone else drooling? Don't make me drool alone now.
I told Lindsay we would have to devise a way to mail cupcakes because there's no way I'll be eating everything myself. She thought inventing cupcake mailers would be a great way to get rich, so while I bake, she's going to patent her ideas. :)
Then a few days later, much to my surprise, I found this waiting in the mail for me, too. Also from my dad.

He's such a sweet guy. Ha ha! Sweet! Get it?
Ok, I'll stop now.
Suffice to say, I have a waiting list of recipes I want to try out of this book, too. And no, I won't give you a peek, because I'm afraid your computer keyboards wouldn't handle the saliva.
Oh, ok. But only because you asked nicely. Please do put a towel over your keyboard, though. I don't want to be held responsible for electronic failures.
On my waiting list are the Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookie, Maple-Pecan Shortbread, Chocolate Crackles, Buttered Rum Meltaways, Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brown-Butter Toffee Blondies, and Chocolate-Strawberry Thumbprints.
I'm gonna be baking for years. :)

Today I crossed one of those recipes off the list. I made Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread cookies (photo above on the front of the book). Here's what my kitchen looked like:
(Do please ignore that pan of brownies off to the left. They were intended for Rum Balls, also from the cookie book, but they had an unfortunate accident with some imitation rum. I won't make THAT mistake again. When a recipe calls for rum, use the real thing. Please. Your mouth and hapless taste-testers will thank you.)
Here's the batter before chocolate chips were added. Mmmmm!

The cookies turned out delicious!
(though I think I'll add a little less ginger next time. But that's just my anti-spice-iness talking. My taste-testers approved of them "as is")
The recipe will be posted later this week, along with my alterations because I have a few bones to pick with Ms. Stewart. Nothing major. I just don't happen to own a $200 Kitchen Aid mixer and no, I don't think the dough has to be refrigerated before and after you form it into balls... but that's a whole 'nuther post.
And since I've already been asked, no, I'm not planning to turn my blog into a Martha Stewart version of Julie and Julia.
Tempting, but no.
Instead, I think I'll just dub 2010 "The Year of the Cupcake."

What a yummy year this will be! Happy weekend, y'all!

January 5, 2010

Forget Ducks, Who's Got Their Skulls in a Row?

Apparently, Caleb does.

Found the halloween stickers, eh son?
Oh yeah.
Peeled and stuck to his bedroom floor during a non-nap naptime.
I suppose that's one way for him to learn his body parts.
Happy, er, Hallow New Year, y'all!

January 3, 2010

The Boy Turns Three

Three years. Where has the time gone?
Seems only a few weeks ago we welcomed you into the world.
But my! how you grew!

And now here you are, a three year old. A big boy. Looking and acting more grown up every day.
I can hardly stand it. :)

You are sweet and cute and adorable and you are told that about a zillion times a day.
(But it's always true)
You are creative. And curious. Sometimes dangerously so. In the last year, you've learned that water comes out of a hose, how to turn said hose on, and that the "peh" tree likes water almost as much as you do.

Quite recently, you've also learned it's not smart to walk on frozen lakes. Even if they make pleasant tinkling noises when pelted with rocks.

You love experimenting with Daddy's tools.
You like to "help" a great deal as well.

Once in a great while, you take a quiet moment to contemplate.
(such moments are generally short-lived)

You are attracted to water more than any fish. We think this is hard-wired into your brain.
(We also make sure there's always an extra set of clothes in the car)

You have more energy than three boys put together and that energy has earned you nicknames such as Monster Boy, The Barbarian, and Woobie. Sometimes you plumb wear us out; sometimes we get frustrated when you go into destructo-mode.

But we love you anyway.

This last year, we have loved hearing your little voice start to sound words out. We love how you say Foof Cake instead of fruit cake and how "ebbow" is your new favorite body part. You are so polite when you ask for something, saying "pease", "dan-koo, and "welcome!" all in the same sentence.

Eventually, though, even Energizer Calebs need rest.

Happy Birthday, Caleb!
Your smile and laughter are the bright spots of our days and your mommy and daddy love you very much!