Still Snowy Here!

The snow on the ground fascinates me. I grew up in eastern Connecticut where it snows heavily only a few times a year and the snow melts fairly quickly. Life in the North Country is quite different! Not only is it quite cold here, it snows much more than it does in my hometown. And since it's so cold, nothing melts. I don't think we'll see the ground until spring.

I took a pilates class this morning and I swear, it's one of the hardest classes I've ever taken. It looks easy but boy, does it burn! Pilates is a great workout and I really encourage anyone who is on the fence about taking a class to go for it. On Tuesdays I take a "Yo-lates" class - it's a combination of yoga and pilates. It's a great workout as well, but not nearly as intense as the pilates class. My girls hang out in the babysitting room for an hour while I go to "exercise class" (as A calls it) and we all have a good time doing our own thing.

What kind of plant is this?

This is our favorite houseplant. It is so delicate and graceful, and it hangs so nicely. Once spring arrives, we'll start some new baby plants from cuttings. We have no idea what it's name is. Do you know?

Pink hearts and pigs!

I bought five white frames for A's room a few months ago and they've been hanging up on her wall, empty, ever since. Everywhere I go I look for "just the right thing" to put in them. I didn't know what I was looking for, but I knew when I saw it, I would just know - I know you know what I mean!

I was at Borders of all places when I saw these greeting cards by Papyrus. I picked up five beautiful cards and they look great! It's so nice to get things up on the wall and really enjoy looking around the room.

Cold here today - this rhododendron is hoping spring will come soon.

Snowy Fun

A had a great time in the sled yesterday. Jeff got quite a workout pulling her around. She kept yelling, "Faster, Daddy!" Who would have guessed that our little scaredy-cat would love it?

H went in the sled for a minute before deciding it wasn't for her this year. This is where she preferred to spend her time:

Quiet Winter

The last night of pregnancy!

Our friend Sue had her baby this morning! A boy. Now they have two boys. I took this photo last night after they came for dinner. Her due date was today and she was definitely ready to have the baby, so last night I invited the family over for a labor-inducing meal. I cooked a veggie lasagna and garlic bread. I borrowed some features from Scalini's, that restaurant in Georgia that serves the eggplant parm dish that supposedly sends overdue women into labor within 48 hours. I did a little research and found that basil and oregano can stimulate uterine contractions, and those are some of the ingredients in the eggplant dish. By the way, the eggplant recipe is phenomenal. I don't make it much because it takes a long time to prepare, but it is well worth it.

Let me just stop here and mention that I ate this pretty much every day for 2 weeks at the end of each of my pregnancies. 2 weeks. I was at least a week overdue with A and I did go into labor a few hours after eating a lot of basil and oregano. But I had been eating it all along. And with H, it did nothing.

That said, it's fun to think that it worked for Sue, and maybe it will work for someone you know! You know how hard it is at the end, when you are willing to do almost anything to get that baby to come out and greet the world.

My veggie lasagna went something like this (it's easy!):

Heat some olive oil in a large pot on medium high
Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic
Add 8-10 oz. of spinach
Cook until the spinach is wilted and most of the water has evaporated.
Mix the spinach in with 2 jars of tomato sauce (I use Newman's)

Meanwhile, mix together in a large bowl:
Ricotta cheese (32 oz container)
1 egg
chopped basil (I used about 1/3 cup but that was the labor-inducing version, you can use less)
chopped oregano (you only need a tablespoon or 2 if you're not expecting a baby)
salt and pepper
a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese

layer in a large baking pan:
tomato sauce
Barilla no-boil lasanga noodles
ricotta cheese mixture
lasagna noodles
tomato sauce
I add a few uncooked broccoli sprigs at this point on top of the tomato sauce
lasagna noodles
ricotta cheese mixture
the rest of the tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, then check to see if it's hot all the way through.

I also made some garlic bread using this recipe I found on the internet a while ago. It's definitely not low-fat, but it is really yummy and it's loaded with italian herbs, so I figured that might help Sue go into labor.

Happy birthday to Sue's baby and all the other babies that are born today!

She can clap!

No matter how many children you have, I don't think it ever gets old. Learning to clap is a great thing!

The family room window

Crafting with the Three R's

Reusing, Reducing and Recycling. We try to do it at home and I'm working it into my creative projects. Today I had some time to get out the pinecone wreath I started at the end of the fall. We live in a White Pine forest and that can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. If you like to be creative with pinecones, it is definitely a good thing!

I'm attaching the pinecones with wire and it's a slow process.

Here's something I hadn't intended to be crafty with, but I am so happy that I am! Plastic grocery bags. What do you do with yours? In our house, they have 3 purposes, and until today, 3 purposes only. 1) Daily cat litter duty; 2) our 2 year old sits on them in the car if she has an accident; 3) I bring them to the grocery store and reuse them.

Today at the store, five, count them - 5 - of the bags broke. There I was, doing my part to reuse them, and they broke. I wadded them up and planned to put them in the car for their next life as a seat for little girls with potty pants. Then I came across Done by Tuesday's blog that referenced an Etsy tutorial about fusing plastic grocery bags together to make a strong material that can be repurposed. Wow! My world just got a little bigger. I sat down and whipped up my first project - it's going to go right into my purse and will hold all of my "to do" papers for the day - folded printer paper, checks to be deposited, coupons to be redeemed, and all the other paper "stuff" that needs a home in my enormous sack that I call a purse. The material isn't the easiest to sew - the seams aren't straight and it can get away from you, but it works, and it's good for the world.


I should be embarrassed to write this...

Actually, I should say that my husband will be embarrassed that I wrote this post. I am fortunate enough that I don't get embarrassed, even when I should.

I just figured out how to tell which way to hold the USB cable when you insert it into your computer. The reason this is so embarrassing is because I am a web programmer and my husband is an absolutely brilliant network administrator and you might think that between us we are pretty computer-savvy. Well, he is, anyway.

For years now I have grabbed the cable and just shoved the end of it into the USB port, and when it didn't shove far enough, I would turn it around and try the other way. Oh my goodness, I can't believe it took me until tonight to figure out how to do it. Not only do they have a little picture on the actual cable that will help you out, but did you know that the front and the back of the silver part look different?

Front - note the 2 square holes:

Back - see those 2 square holes? They are white now!

So there you have it. You have no excuse now, I have made the mistake for you!

House Beautiful with small children

Even when you try to keep things clean and tidy, Curious George ends up falling asleep in the oddest places. I wonder how he got there?

New England coastline

Back from a quick trip to Rhode Island.

How many pairs of pink pants does one little person need?

...Apparently, quite a few. I was packing away clothes that don't fit H anymore and I counted at least 10 pairs of pastel pink pants; different styles, same size. In her drawer of clothes that do fit, there are another 10 or so pairs of pastel pink pants. She's sitting in her high chair right next to me as I write this and she's wearing yet another pair of pink pants!

Here are some origami birds that our friend Alyssa made for our girls. This mobile hangs in A's room. I love it. The birds are so peaceful and the colors and patterns of the paper are a treat for the eyes. Enjoy!

If you like to hunt fish underwater...

then you'll need some spears like these. My brother-in-law and his wife are avid scuba divers, and are fast becoming avid underwater hunters. The idea of hunting and killing things is distressing, but if you like to eat fish and lobster (which I do), then you can view it as just another way of getting the food to your table.

See? I could have been a lawyer. I can rationalize anything.

The laundry detergent verdict is in

I've done a few loads of wash using the new home-made laundry detergent. I like it! It gets my clothes nice and clean, just as clean as the store-bought kind. I'm trying to figure out how much it cost me to make it. I made 50 ounces and it cost $1 total. I use 1 - 2 tablespoons for each load. How much does it cost per load? If 2 tablespoons = 1 ounce, then I have over 50 loads for one dollar. That works out to 2 cents per load.

Not bad!

Today I learned that...

It's easy to make home-made, environmentally- and budget-friendly laundry detergent. I used this recipe for powdered detergent. I don't know how well it cleans yet - I have a load in the wash now and I'll let you know if I'm happy with the results.

I also learned that it is possible to make a rice milk latte. I know that some of you have been wondering about that! I used the good stuff - Rice Dream Vanilla, found in the dairy case. We have a Krups cappuccino maker that Jeff got as a gift from his parents several years ago, and it still pumps out the best steamed milk ever. The rice milk latte is here to stay!

Back from Florida

We're back from a trip to Florida. Jeff's parents live there year-round (although you could argue that they actually live on a cruise ship and only have a home in Florida so they can store their stuff).

Lots of unpacking and sorting through photos to do! Stay tuned for some more photos of the day - I owe you a few.

What would you do...

What would you do if you got a new TV today? If you're me, you'll take a photo of it. If you're my husband, you'll spend all night playing with it.

Here it is, Jeff's toy of the year. Congratulations, Jeff!

My Christmas cactus is in bloom now, which is appropriate since it's called a Christmas cactus. This might be the first year it has bloomed at this time. We used to call it our birthday cactus because it always bloomed in April, for our birthdays.

Winter is still here

Today we had our monthly meeting for our MOMS Club environmental group. There are a few of us who meet regularly to talk about little ways we can positively impact the environment. Today we talked about water conservation and pollution. I am doing a household water challenge. I'm going to read the meter every week for a few weeks and see what things I can do that will lower my water usage.

We're going to make our own laundry soap at our next meeting.

Valentine's Day is coming up and I like to decorate with hearts. We don't actually do anything for Valentine's Day, but it's nice to see little hearts all over the house. I'm sewing together some felt hearts with a blanket stitch and then I'll stuff them and hang them in random spots. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Winter Morning Sun

First time for everything...

There's a first time for everything. In our house, today we celebrated a first time for standing while playing.

There have been a lot of "firsts" in our home recently. Not only is H standing up to play, but she's sleeping in her crib for both naps and nighttime sleep. Prior to this, she was in our bed. We do everything that most parenting books advise against. Both of our kids slept with us for almost the whole first year. But you know what? They (and us, as a couple) are just fine in spite of it. Dr. Sears has some great info on co-sleeping and why it's so important for babies to sleep with their parents. So does Dr. McKenna. When we moved A from our bed into a crib, we were prepared for the worst, and we were pleasantly surprised at how well she transitioned. When we moved H into a crib from our bed, we thought that surely all hell would break loose because she was so attached to us. Again, we have been pleasantly surprised to find that H enjoys her crib and is still a very happy baby.

We try to follow our heart with parenting, and sometimes that means we follow the doctor's orders, and sometimes we do our own thing. Whatever works best for our situation is what is best for our kids. Likewise, I'm sure that you parents reading this are doing what is working best for your family. That's the way it should be. Keep up the good work, and follow your heart! Your heart will never steer you wrong.

Happy Monday. Here is my question for the day: what did you do that was creative today?

Paper animals

We got a page-a-day origami calendar for 2008. If you've ever done any origami, you can probably tell, from looking at my dog and fox, that I haven't. I'm having fun learning how to make things though, and A likes it too. Jeff fancies himself an origami master, and he likes to look at our shapes to see how we're progressing. He learned origami in 2nd grade and apparently that's all the training you need to reach Master status.

The next 2 days of the calendar call for the use of dollar bills to make a shirt and pants. I use my debit card exclusively, so I haven't seen a dollar bill in ages. I guess I'll set those 2 origami lessons aside.

Vegan cupcakes

Today we went to a birthday party for a very cute 3 year old girl we know. L's mom tried to find some dairy- and egg-free cupcakes or muffins for A, but couldn't find any (surprise, surprise), so I made some and took them with us. I used a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Not only does she have some really unique and creative recipes, but her writing style is very funny. You really have to sit down and read the whole recipe before you dive in, because she has hints and funny anecdotes on nearly every page. Isa also has a website and apparently, a cable TV show that is based out of her NY City apartment.

The birthday party was a lot of fun. Three years olds can be a tough crowd because they are so physical and have short attention spans. It was held at an indoor play center, For the Love of Children, and it was just the right spot for a big group of active children.

Happy Saturday! Our date last night was delightful. We went out for Indian food at a place called Karavali and it was very tasty. Tomorrow we've got 2 cords of wood coming, so we are resting tonight in anticipation of all the work that is to be done stacking the wood. It's cold here, and a nice fire in the fireplace is just what we need to get us through the winter.

Salt for cooking...I just love Italian pottery

Learning to Swiffer!

I got a swiffer so that A can learn to clean the floors. Yes, she's only 2, but she's very helpful at home and I feel overwhelmed by cleaning the floors, so I thought we could strike a nice compromise with the super-fun swiffer.

I am putting together some home page layouts for a website I'm working on and I'm looking forward to learning even more about the magic of CSS as I complete the work. There's a great book by Dave Shea called The Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web . It came about after he started a website called CSS Zen Garden. It's actually a group of sites that all use the same HTML code and apply different CSS styles to it. It shows what you can really do with CSS, and how you can break through the boundaries of tables and page breaks if you dare to think outside the box. The book has been a real inspiration for me. Even if you're not a computer geek, it's really nice to sit down and browse through some artistic websites.

Happy Thursday. Tomorrow is the anniversary of our first date, so we are going to celebrate with a date. What a refreshing idea!

Stroller Parking at the Play Area

Today we met up with some other kids (and their moms) at the new play area at the mall. It's snowing again today and it's so neat that the sun is shining and yet snow is falling all around. It's sticking to the trees and it truly looks like a winter wonderland. It's official, we're living in a snow globe.

I've got one baby sleeping and the other is trying hard to get my attention. I can't wait to tackle my to-do pile. In the rush of Christmas celebrations, a bunch of stuff - including my website work and my baby clothing line - got stuck on the bottom of my "life" pile. I also have a few craft projects I want to work on and I'll tell you about those in a future post - soon, I promise!

I am sitting down with my business plan tonight and I'm going to see where I stand at this point. So far I've had a sample made and I will need to talk to the manufacturer about quality control before I move ahead. My next steps involve scouting out fabrics and I am working on more designs.

In the meantime, I've got websites to design and children to chase after, dinner to cook, and cats to feed.

Happy January!

Thank You Notes

Thank you notes

About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!