Sunday, November 30, 2008

Your Virtual Goody Plate

Last year December was an awesome month on the blog. I held a series of posts and discussions called "Making Christmas." We covered Christmas music, decorations, cards, gifts, traditions, events, books and movies. It was awesome - you guys are awesome. If you missed it, go back and check it out. It really made the season more special and meaningful to me.

So I wondered - What could I do blogwise this year to set the month apart? I wanted to reach out and give all my friends far away a big hug. Or bake you a plate of cookies.

That's it!

Yes, I'll make you all a plate of goodies. The hugest, most massive month-long virtual goody plate ever. In fact, I have been baking it for months in order to get pictures and tastes and comments to share. Inspired by the success of Slow Cooker Week and my insatiable love of baking and blogging, there will be a new Virtual Goody Plate (VGP) recipe here every single day for the month of December. I have most of them lined up but there are still a few open slots so if you have a holiday treat winner we can't live without email it to me. It's not like I hold a monopoly on good recipes - far from it. It has to be a cookie/square/bar/ball or otherwise belonging on a goody plate for the most part.

I'll tell you now, there will be a lot of chocolate. And a few surprises. It has been fantastic having an excuse to try so many recipes. A lot will have pictures but not all of them. When I came up with the idea a few months ago I figured out that I'd have to make 2 goodies a week to get 31 pictures, and that just didn't happen. But I am making an effort, so thanks to Mom & Dad and all my local friends who graciously received goodies all fall.

After all, I'm on a diet.

I leave you with this quote from food writer Elizabeth Wood in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, December 1955:

"Yes, there is a Mrs. Claus. She's YOU - busy making visions of sugarplums come true. No gift is more welcome than goodies from your own kitchen."

See you tomorrow!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Good Stuff - October / November

I missed October completely and November almost slipped through my fingers as well. But here's a quickie update on a few recent good stuffs.

Grown-up Good Stuff

Super Glove - Oven mitts do the trick most of the time, but in some cases, like cookie sheets that need to be grabbed on the very edge, or pulling the bread machine pan out by a little handle, you need the option of less bulk and better dexterity. These Super Gloves are the best addition to my kitchen this month. - I've been working on a little project and needed some new font options. Cousine Katy hooked me up with this, my new favorite free font site. Love the category choices, rather than all fonts just alphabetical. Also love the Mormon advertisement running at the top when I last checked.

Amazon Universal Wish List Button - We really use wish lists in our family, especially around this time of year. Amazon does sell a ton of stuff but it doesn't always have the exact thing you want. Enter the new Universal Wish List button. It's a button you can add to your browser so that you can add anything from any website to your Amazon wish list. Let the possibilities begin!

Amish Friendship Bread - My friend Julia gave me a starter a few weeks ago, then on Saturday I made it into chocolate cinnamon "bread" (really more like delicious delectable cake!) Then I had a couple starters left and decided to keep them through at least one more cycle after finding all these variations and other things you can make with the starter. I think next go-round I'll make cinnamon rolls and cherry pistachio bread. YUM!

List of Top 100 Mystery books of all time - According to Mystery Writers of America, who probably know their stuff. Mysteries are my favorite "fun reading" so I was excited to find this list for some new recommendations. Of course I am spending less time reading these days than ever before, but that's not for a lack of lots and lots of books that look good!

Kid Good Stuff

Kids Craft Weekly - WOW. Thanks to the ineffably omni-talented Kat for getting me hooked on this website and *FREE* monthly e-newsletter. Awesome, easy, fun and totally crafty ideas! Unfortunately most are a little too messy or difficult for 25 nursery kids each Sunday, but perfect for me and my own. Now that Hazel rarely naps, she and I sometimes do afternoon crafts, like plastic-lid print-making or contact paper stained glass, both inspired by KCW. The current issue features Christmas cards and Advent activities. Plus she has a 20-page mini book all on Christmas crafts you can download for a mere $5 - so worth it!

Little Pea by Amy Krause Rosenthal - This is my (our) new favorite book. It's about Little Pea and his parents Mama Pea and Papa Pea. They do regular Pea things but Little Pea hates candy, and candy is what you have to eat for dinner when you're a Pea. He strikes a 5-bite deal with his parents, forces his 5 bites down and earns his favorite dessert - spinach! Simple, clean, adorable illustrations and the girls always laugh when I imitate the sounds and faces Little Pea makes when he forces his candy down. I read it to the nursery kids, too, and they thought it was hilarious. I see the same author/illustrator team has another book, Little Hoot, in which a young owl just wants to go to bed at a reasonable time like his friends, but nooooo, his parents make him stay up all night having fun. I love it.

Pop Fly by Justin Roberts - I seriously love this guy. This is our second CD by him and we listen to it all the time in the car, and of course the girls have their favorites: Pop Fly (about a kid in the outfield not paying attention to the game and panicking when a pop fly comes his way), Henrietta's Hair (about a girl who hated getting her hair combed so her mom gave up and all kinds of creepy crawlies moved in and lived in harmony), and Stay-at-Home Dad. I like the slower, more sentimental tunes like From Scratch (about Grandma's kitchen of course) and Fruit Jar (which I can't remember what it's about but I reall y like it.) Justin has got fans for life in this family, and hopefully we can catch his show here in January.

Bedbug Bible Gang - It's a Thursday afternoon in November. The girls are asking to watch a show, and I can't think of a single one I can stand to listen to right now. So I turn to the rarely-used *On-Demand cable feature to see what kind of free kids' shows there are besides Dora and Miss Spider. Perhaps something we've never seen before? Bingo! In a section called Inspiration On Demand is a show called The Bedbug Bible Gang. No idea what it is but let's give it a try. It's a cute little show with voices same as Veggie Tales, with a couple of bed bugs named Buzzer and Sparky that like to tell each other about Bible stories in rhyme, then do little comprehension activities or funny songs at a preschool level. It is an unbelievable hit around here. We only have 2 episodes on demand, and we all have them memorized by now, but I'm not annoyed yet. I mean, they're learning Bible stories! Hazel loves the story of Elijah and the widow who gave him her last meal. And the story of Zechariah being told by an angel they would have a son. In fact, the song that goes with it is impossible to shake. Sing along, please. To the tune of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt:

John will be Zechariah's son,
That angel said his name,
But Zech was full of doubt,
And so he could not shout,
Til the day that the newborn baby came:
(and repeat several times quieter, always shouting the last line.)

They have a bunch of DVD's out so I put one on the girls' wish list. We'll take any inspiration we can get around here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I lived in New York for three years and saw one - ONE - celebrity: Uma Thurman walking down the street in Tribeca. Ed saw more since he was in Manhattan every day. And I got all kinds of stories of sightings from friends - Keanu Reeves in the line at the movie theater, Luke Wilson jogging in Central Park, Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz filming at a park. Well today I had a sighting. A most unlikely person - one that I just saw on TV last night in fact - in a most unlikely place.

I was at the gym, warming up with laps on the track and who do you think I saw on a treadmill? Carla from Top Chef. Of course I thought, no way, it's just a resemblance. But she is kind of a distinct-looking person, glasses and hair and all, and each time I passed her I became more and more sure. I also remembered she was from DC, so that kind of sealed the deal. Later she got on the elliptical machine next to mine and I got a better look. Pretty sure, sure enough to post about it anyway. Unless she's got a sister.

I delved deep into my - granted, shallow - reservoir of social protocol, trying to come up with an appropriate way to approach or ask her, but in the end I came up empty-minded and let it - and her - go. Maybe I'll see her again. In the meantime, I'll just have to..."watch what happens!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

What Can We Say?

Ahem, notice anything different around here?

Some fall foliage, a little make-up, an excellent photographer, a little Photoshop, and VOILA! We are FABULOUS! Yes, we had a professional photo shoot for the first time in years, and Andrea Marie did an AMAZING job. Just look at us!

Who knew?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Disco Mom Takes on the Sand

You may have seen me mention a few times here about the sand on the playground at Hazel's school. Kids love to play in sand, so I know it's fun for them. But true to the other moms' warnings it does stain socks, and in Hazel's case, the entire front of pants and coat, orange. After a few sandy mishaps at home I have learned to sit Hazel down outside, remove her shoes and socks, shake them out, and pat her feet down in baby powder, every time we come home.

So when I realized she was outgrowing her sneakers, I hopped on ebay, hoping to find some nice quality used shoes for a good price, that I wouldn't mind getting sandy every single day. I found a couple good ones and put them in my watch list. I usually search for Stride Rite first because they make great shoes that are way too expensive retail, but great second-hand, and I know they'll fit because I use the fit-finder on their website to size the girls' feet.

A few days later, when it was time to start bidding, I did another search to see what had been posted lately.
When I saw these brand new Stride Rite ankle boots, my mind started clicking.

Ankle boots - higher ridge to keep the sand out!

Toffee tan - nearly the exact color of the sand!

They retail for $48 on Zappos - just posted so they have 6 days to go with a starting bid of $19.95 but a Buy It Now price of $24.95. I wasn't planning on spending so much but the auction price is sure to go above $25, and these have certain...promise that make them especially appealing for us.

So I gave in to ebay temptation and bought them now, a few weeks ago. The story has a happy and sad ending. Sadly, the ankle boot does nothing to keep the sand out. Maybe a tiny bit less sand gets in, but she still collects a pile that needs to be dumped out each time. Observe:I think she would have to wear full length boots to avoid this, and the ones we have are too nice to send out there. The silver lining is that we nailed the color. Any other shoes would look a year old after one day in the sand, but these look just about the same as when we got them. So I'm resigned for the moment to the way things are, but still hoping for some kind of permanent solution, just waiting for the million dollar idea to hit, so that the sand and I can reconcile and I can move on with my life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Today, 9:04 am. Pulling out of the driveway, both girls in the back seat.

Hazel: "Nana is a Mom and a Grandma."

"Yep, she's my Mom and your Grandma."

Ginger: "Bobba!"

"Yep, Bobba is a Dad and a Grandpa."

Ginger: "And...Uncle Dave!"

"Mhm, Dave is a Daddy and an uncle."

Hazel: "And a Michelle and an aunt!"

That she is, that she is.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Yesterday, 8:51 am. Hazel and her friend Bradley are talking in the back seat of the car on the way to preschool.

Hazel coughs.

Me: "Hazel, cover your mouth when you cough please."

Hazel: "Bradley, I have mouth germs in my mouth."

Bradley: "What does that mean?"

Hazel: "Well it means I have a little cough and when I cough a little bit they come out!"

Aw, cute. Three-year-olds are so cute. I'll have to remember this for a Snapshot blog post.

Bradley: "You mean like Ghostbusters?"

Hazel: "Yeah, like Ghostbusters!"

Peals of laughter.

Um, OK, don't know how to explain that part but at least amazingly they seem to understand the connection. They're cute, but their logic is truly elusive.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Where's Kari?

For those of you still checking my blog, hi there. How are you? Where have I been? At the gym, mostly. Or going to bed early so I can get up early to go to the gym. Or working on the family cookbook I started almost 9 months ago and hoped to finish by Christmas. Or trying new recipes.

Today at the gym I did the math in my head that I knew was there but I never quantified before. I want to have another baby before I'm 35, or close to it. I want to lose a ton of weight and get into a healthy range before becoming pregnant again. So I'm literally in a race against the calendar, eating salads and shredded wheat and running/walking/biking/lifting/ellipticizing my butt (and other areas) off.

But I'm still here. Maybe not as often. Probably not as interesting. But I still have a few things to show and tell, and something special up my sleeve for December posts, so do stay tuned.

And I'm DVRing Top Chef tonight, but it's not really as fun to dish on it since I can't judge the contestants' work by tasting it. But it is good entertainment...and I do love cooking.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sound Bingo

Guest blogger Kari Hickman, M.A., CCC-SLP, here. Sometimes it just feels good to put all those letters after my name. I did earn them.

Granted I've been mostly out of the SLP loop since Hazel was born. But I pay my ASHA dues every year, keep in loose touch with former co-workers and co-grad-students, and even read up on current issues (sometimes.) Like when Hazel was going through a severe stuttering bout it was great to email my stuttering specialist friend Laura for some help. Once in awhile I even conjure up some visual phonics or phonemic awareness activities to do with the girls. Mostly I just love to watch their speech and language acquisition run its natural course, and marvel at both the structural and subtle linguistic complexities they are mastering.

I recently threw a Discovery Toys party, both because I love their products and to take advantage of the hostess perks towards Christmas gifts. When I got the new catalog I panicked when I couldn't find two games I remembered from last year at my friend Kelly's party, and wanted to get. Diane, the DT consultant, told me they no longer carried the games but they were available through Kindermusik. Not only available, but on sale at 1/2 price. I snatched them up.

They're both sound bingo games. Both come with 12 4x4 square bingo cards, a bag of plastic chips and a CD. Sound Bingo has pictures and sounds of musical instruments, animals and environmental noises like a fire engine and hammer. You put the CD on random and let the fun begin. It also helps develop auditory skills and focus, analytical skills, language (new vocabulary as you discuss the game), and the pre-reading skill of matching sounds to visual representation.

ABC Sound Bingo has 2-sided cards. One side has pictures of items like kite, butterfly, cherry, and the other side has photos of consonant letters like S, P, G, etc. For each phonic, the CD says the sound twice and two things that begin with it, like "/b/..../b/....balloon or banana" (never the name of the letter). I'm not even sure I can list all the good skills this game addresses; at least all of the above plus beginning phonemic awareness (a major reading success skill) and phonics.

Plus they're totally fun. I have made a million bingo games for SLP clients and primary lessons - you can make them for anything, from things tithing is used for to story comprehension to telling time, and almost any age can play. Kids especially love it when you use magnetic chips and wands to pick them up at the end. Good stuff. You could totally make your own ABC Bingo cards and instead of a CD just say the sounds or words yourself. The other one is harder to replicate all the sounds and probably worth having the CD. As soon as they arrived yesterday I played the first one with the girls and they loved it - Ginger had no problem finding the pictures on her card, and they both learned a few new sounds like cymbal and saw. They asked to play it again before bed.

For educational & fun wrapped up in one 1/2 price package, Sound Bingos get 4.5 disco balls:
And since I'm here anyway in my SLP persona, a little plug for other fun & age appropriate activities that support your child's speech and language development.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Daughter of Time

I chatted very briefly once with a woman at church about books, and I mentioned that I love mysteries. The next week she brought me two of her favorites, and luckily they were both pretty short so I had a shot at finishing them.

The first was The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. I make no claim to be especially well-read or a great knower of authors but I admit I was taken aback when, in his glowing introduction, Robert Barnard (a fellow mystery writer) proclaimed Ms. Tey to be one of the greatest mystery writers of all time. Not only that, but several singular and collective sources point to The Daughter of Time as one of the best mysteries of all time. I'd never heard of either of them. So I was obviously anxious to jump in.

It wasn't quite what I expected. It was neither thrilling nor suspenseful. But it was admittedly enjoyable and sometimes gripping. Basically a police detective, hospital bedridden with a broken leg and bored senseless, becomes intrigued by a painting of Richard III his friend brings him. A student of faces, he decides the face in the painting does not match the legend associated with Richard, which is that he was a monster and murdered his two young nephews. He orders books and eventually acquires a research assistant to run back and forth to the British Museum, and through historical facts and deductive conversations they conclude a new truth about Richard and his nephews. The title comes from an old proverb:

"Truth is the daughter of time."

True, it was remarkably well-written and a fun piece of deductive detection to follow - good for keeping your brain tuned - but just not very exciting. Especially when you don't know - or care - anything about British history whatsoever, which is what the whole book is about. You're lucky to remember where your keys are. So yes, I'd say it was good. But it's #4 on the Mystery Writers of America Top 100 Mysteries of All Time, so it must be really good if you're a mystery writer, and really really good if you're a Richard III supporter.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...