Thursday, December 29, 2011

thankful for..

  1. He came.
  2. mom came to celebrate it with us.
  3. waking up before the sun on Christmas morning to "mom. SANTA CAME. our tree. it's FILLED with presents. lilah. she got a WHOLE kitchen. my stocking. i didn't get coal. it's FILLED with PRESENTS. i got a YODA pop." oh God thank you for leading him to my side of the bed first. perfect end to being up all night with a puking 3 y/o. :( for memory's sake: we had to stop several times through opening gifts for a sick little girl.
  4. gifts that say they're listening to me, reading my posts, & care enough to seek it out. thoroughly surprised.
  5. she's played with the kitchen every day since
  6. a plate with "pizza" & a "fork", & "coffee mug" delivered to my laptop
  7. waterslide the whole family can ride together at Great Wolf Lodge. their faces. the laughing. the shreiking
  8. clara loving the humidity, laying on the floor in her diaper, grabbing her feet with a drooly grin
  9. scoring months worth of [the good] loofahs for half price
  10. kids are forgiving
  11. "be joyful because you have hope. be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times" Rom. 12:12 NCV
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

He came

"As silent as snow falling, he came in. 
And when no one was looking, in the darkness, he came....

The God who flung planets into space and kept them whirling around and around, the God who made the universe with just a word, the one who could do anything at all~was making himself small. And coming down...as a baby.
Wait. God was sending a baby to rescue the world?
...
"But its too wonderful!" Mary said and felt her heart beating hard. "How can it be true?"
"Is anything too wonderful for God?"[the angel] Gabriel asked.
So Mary trusted God more than what her eyes could see. 
...
And there, in the stable, amongst the chickens and the donkeys and the cows, in the quiet of the night, God gave the world his wonderful gift. The baby that would change the world was born.
Mary and Joseph named him Jesus, "Emmanuel"-which means "God has come to live with us."
Because, he had."
My kids & I have watched this adorable video over and over! The story comes to life & cracks you up too!
In case you haven't seen this Christmas Story (pictured above), you can check it out here.

Merriest Christmas!
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

thankful for...

1. my mom is coming to our house for Christmas
2. gifts hiding in closets and behind storage in the garage
3. smell of Gain-washed clothes
4. the accident was minor
5. silver-clad tree, aglow
6. 5 different cookies baked and shared, newbies just as good as they looked
7. new friend-prospects in our new city after 1 year, (incl. 1/2 a year in hiding w/newborn & pregnancy hormones
8. manicure
9. free shipping
10. sensible, solicited advice
11. clementines, kids can peel
12. Carter's foot & hands as a reindeer on his sweatshirt
13. Lilah requesting one for her brother even before taking her own prize
14. perfect stocking-stuffers come to mind, are available
15. giving
16. dan assembling toys without my nagging or even suggesting.
17. Clara chewing on Sophie & drooling & cooing, on her back w/her feet in the air
18. warm & fuzzy socks
19. finding Carter knows the true meaning, re-telling the story nearly perfectly
20. my mom is coming to my house for Christmas! (worth a second mention)


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

gifts, suddenly inadequate

This is the day when I sabotage all of my efforts to be thoughtful, budget-friendly, and done in advance. With just five books left til Christmas, I have all of my gifts bought and wrapped.
Still, I start to think of the recipients and what they mean to me and second-guess my carefully chosen gift. 
Is this really enough? But she is so special...she teaches my kid every day OR 
he makes so much effort to be a great uncle 
OR she's always generous and supportive, I should add something more. 
I was especially pleased with the gifts I bought for my husband this year.
Until.....I found out what he got me!
Unintentionally, I swear.
Last week when he started beaming over my Christmas gift I made a conscious decision to keep my eyes & ears closed.
I expected it must be something grand, but couldn't imagine what it was.
Never anticipated it was....well, let me tell you what happened:
I sent a text message to a friend telling her "Coldplay tickets go on sale tomorrow" and she replied with "a friend with an AmEx card got her tickets presale".
A-Ha!
He told me he opened a new card so that I couldn't find out what he was buying when I saw the American Express envelope in his hand the other day.
For 8 minutes I considered trying to pretend I was surprised on Christmas morning to give him the satisfaction. But I could not contain my joy. I was BURSTING! Surprised! Elated! Shocked, really. It was completely his idea and he went to much trouble and come to find out, through many road blocks to get us close up when Coldplay comes to DC in July! I can hardly believe it! 

Needless to say, I'm questioning how my gifts stand up to his.
We weren't even going to give much to each other this year.

Same with my mom, I got her something perfect; something only I would get her & she wouldn't get herself.
Then yesterday she SHOCKED me with the news that she's coming to spend Christmas with us. A never-thought-in-a-million-years-she'd-leave-my-brothers-in-NY-and-come-to-VA-to-be-with-me kinda surprise.
Are you feeling like you need to add a bit more for the people that mean so much and do so much?

In the end, gifts, no matter how grand, never seem to adequately convey ones gratefulness and desire to bless another. 
I think you're pretty safe if you
give what means the most to you. 
Your time. Your attention. 
Turn your cell phone off in their company. 
Go to the party you'd rather skip but would mean so much for you to attend. 
Make their favorite, not yours.
Give them the best, take second pick. 
Make the effort. Make it special. Make it genuine.
More lessons I've learned on giving in Satin Sheets are Slippery
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Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Christmas card to readers

Dearest detailgalblog readers,
I would have sent one to you if I had your name & address. 
Thank you for reading this gals' details and for commenting when they strike a cord with you. I've been surprised and blessed through this blog all year long.
May there be killer bargains wrapped under your tree, 
favorite finds in your stocking, 
good food shared with loved ones,
and may the Joy and Peace of God fill your home... 
Tina

card: tiny prints
photography: s.j.bridgeman photography buffalo, ny Pin It

Thursday, December 15, 2011

thankful for...


  • his face bounding off of the school bus toward me
  • my husband conspicuously planning my Christmas gift
  • pine & holly branches from the yard in my vignettes
  • they have no idea those things are already here, hidden in the garage
  • surprised by hometown-ers in my new town. talking best food & mutual friends.
  • one-click & Amazon delivers it; cleaners & k-cups at good prices, w/free shipping
  • Christmas cards from old friends; the faces once babies now grown
  • Luke 1:28, 34, 37*&38
  • "let every heart prepare Him room." what a lyric!
  • Fresh Balsam on sale 2@$20. Now I'm not the only one not burning it this season. Still think this is my favorite.
  • the Jesus Storybook Bible audio. He's here
  • getting dark at 5 gets kids in bed by 7:30
  • finding the doll, lost in NY, here in VA and on clearance
  • MAC lipstick in Dubonnet; perfectly red. date-night lipstick.
  • Clara's stocking hanging too, our family of five feeling right



  • Zack Morris in made-for-TV Christmas movie
  • weekend plans
  • answered prayers
  • this fun Nativity story video. what a way to introduce the story of Christmas to your kids!




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    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Holiday Card Display

    Are you watching for the mailman & trotting down to the box immediately like I am?
    Oh what fun it is to open a Christmas card with family & friends' faces smiling back at me! My kids are just as amused. A few early birds have come in already & I can hardly wait to see what comes in over the next few weeks.

    How do you display your collection? 
    This year,  I transformed our family room wall, where the kids' artwork is typically displayed (like this).
    I wrapped this IKEA curtain wire with berry garland & used the clips to hang the cards.
    I switched out the framed art for our own family Christmas cards from years past. The background is a paper bag. (my favorite holiday use for your paper bag here)


    I mailed my cards out on Wednesday. Tiny Prints came through with the perfect matte finish on a cheery card this year. I'll share it with you soon.

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    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Thankful, by practice

    I'm a dreamer. I revel in grand schemes. 
    The little things have never been my strong point.
    If you're been following me here for a while you know my toughest challenge being a stay-at-home mom of three littles has been the painful predictability of that sort of life. Mundane is not my thing.

    I believed, looking around me & seeing no prospects, that "someday my prince would come" even if out-of-the-blue. And just like that, out-of-the-blue he called me because my cousin shared my number. A few months after our blind date, he asked me to marry him on a bridge in Central Park across from The Plaza hotel in NYC. I said "YES!" blinded by the rock he was holding out to me. Yes! to the ring, Yes! to the love story; Yes! Yes! Yes! to the extraordinary.

    And nine years later, my life couldn't be more ordinary. Charmed, for sure, but ordinary.
    My mundane life is peppered with exciting risks like selling our house by owner in 3 weeks last year & moving across the country to a place we'd never visited.

    How did a dreamer like me end up living this typical life? 
    The husband, the kids, they're as great as I could have dreamed, yes. Realizing I wasn't going to be changing the world because I was going to be busy for 8 years changing diapers has been the struggle. 
    Every now & then something threatens what matters most to me, or I read a widow's blog, or a mother's heartbreaking battle with her child's illness & I am shaken to contentment.

    Contentment an elusive goal for a dreamer like me.

    Then I read this book: One Thousand Gifts.
    A friend recommended it to me last year. I got it, read the first page & thought, "ugh. who cares?" I wasn't "in the mood" for this poetic challenge to gratefulness.
    I picked it up again last month and I can say, it has forever changed me. 
    I am enlightened to the practice of thankfulness and how it begets joy.
    The practice of looking for things that bring a smile to my face, a sigh to my heart, a twinkle to my eye has changed me.
    I'm making lists of these "gifts" each day and on Thursdays I'll share some of those here with you.
    I do hope you will read this book.
    If you're not "in the mood" now, pick it up so when the moment strikes you, you will have it on hand. One Thousand Gifts.

    For Thankful posts, click on the "i'm thankful for" image in the sidebar
    or the "being thankful" label, also in the sidebar

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    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    25 Books Til Christmas project: FREE

    Our 2nd annual 25 days til Christmas countdown!

    Tonight we began our countdown to Christmas.
    I chose 25 Christmas/Winter-themed books from the library and wrapped them in paper bags & raffia. Simple. (they aren't due back until 12.28. Remind me. )
    My son's face lit up when he came home from school to find them all wrapped & under the Christmas tree. I like to buy a couple of specially marked books for us to keep.

    The idea is: we will read one nightly, the last one on Christmas Eve, leaving the space under the tree bare. Good news is you can start this visual countdown at any point in December. Watching that space clear out builds anticipation for the big morning.

    I wrapped the books in paper grocery store bags because I happen to have quite a stockpile & who doesn't favor "brown paper packages tied up with strings"?

    Lay the bags flat, so the bottom is folded underneath. 
    I cut the top off, just under the handle.
    Slide the book in just the first/top fold.
    Fold the top down like an envelope & tape.
    Add a # & go crazy with ribbons & bows or don't. 
    Spread them (& only them) under the tree & watch the space empty out before Christmas morning!

    I like to gather the books at the end of each week & return any that won't be re-read to the library. I hope your family enjoys this tradition as much as ours has! Pin It

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Poulsen Turkey Secrets. still Laughing out loud.

    I can still picture it exactly as it happened.
    And can laugh out loud over it!
    The greatest Thanksgiving memory ever.
    My two sisters-in-law & I gathered to make the entire traditional dinner for our family last Thursday.
    Every dish just as yummy as the next.
    Michelle's crowd-pleasing sweet potatoes and old, reliable Betty Crocker cookbook stuffing were the perfect compliment to the main attraction: our turkey.
    Here's the secret we shared after plates were cleared, bellies full and dessert was served (pictured above):
    The nurse among us worked that turkey with butter & thyme between the skin & the breast like nobody's business before we realized it was upside down. That may have shaken us out of our "happy just to be doing this together" cloud, but, apparently it did not.
    We flipped the bird & buttered it up, stuffed the cavity with aromatics & tied up the legs. Better get this guy in the oven quickly, the husbands, watching all the kids have already sent texts asking when it will be ready.
    I held the oven bag open for my sister-in-law to drop the 23 pound buttered ball inside. 
    Ready? 
    Yep.
    Go!
    Smoosh those wings & legs into the opening...
    All of it fits into the bag...
    And...
    Straight through the bag
    Onto the floor and my foot.
    Time stood still. Our mouths agape and silenced. Eyes wide. Looking from one to the other. And outbursts of laughter. Our turkey, our Thanksgiving turkey lathered in butter and fresh thyme is on the floor!
    Best Thanksgiving memory ever.
    You can imagine the glances we exchanged as our husbands and in-laws moaned over juicy bite after bite of our turkey.
    Ground turkey.



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    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Thankful for...lifetime nail-biting habit kicked

    Thankful for... 
    • Sally Hansen Nail Growth Miracle (lifetime nail-biter kicked the habit. 6 months my own long, strong nails! for the first time ever.)
    • Moms who share their $5 Similac coupons 
    • Robitussin CF
    • shopping with my adorable sister-in-law @Wegmans
    • ELF cream eye shadow pot. $3 makes eyeliner so much more fun! thanks, Starr
    • Sophie the giraffe. Teethers-best friend
    • reading "[I] only [saw] because I was looking..." has changed the way I go through the day. Read the book. For fans: are you using the FREE APP?
    • Nuts in my salad
    • Amazon Mom Subscribe & Save w/Free 2 day shipping. Sure helps a mother out.
    • Lights out. Kids tucked. Little voices singing "Away in a Manger..." doing motions.
    • Target...because I went to WalMart last night. Why does one make me go "Ick" and the other make me go "aahh!"?

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    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Thankful For..Clara Lily, having a third

    oh I had a whole list to share tonight but only one thing is on my mind tonight. so, please forgive me for this gratuitous photo of Clara Lily, 5 months 
    More from this impromptu photo session by the beloved
      S.j.bridgeman photography
    thankful for...
    • the experience of Clara, our first baby without colic more here
    • I'm thankful for the way she lights up while she watches her older brother & sister
    • For Lilah always willing to run for a burp cloth and enthusiastic about picking out a diaper
    • For the way she babbles when she hears her daddy talk
    • having 3 makes taking one or even two feel like a breeze
    • And she smiles at first glimpse of me after waking up...my heart. oh. my. my heart. 
    so, yes. have 3. the third comes with something special. when you're done at two, since the world is built for a family of 4 or you already have a boy & a girl or you can't be sure you'll get that one you don't have, if you're on the fence: go for it! you're a pro now.  
    enjoy your hard-won motherhood maturity. 
    you know enough to leave a happy baby as is and to rock that baby because one day they won't fit across your chest. you've sent your firstborn to school potty-trained and sleeping in their own bed thru the night. you recognize what's "just a stage" so you can enjoy it or wait it out-whichever applies.
    number three, for me, for us, brings something surprisingly sweet we are savoring.

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    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Thankful for...

    Thankful for...
    Another grown-up in the car. running in & out, how I've missed you!
    Lilah spontaneously singing "heaven & nature sing" standing at the Nativity scene
    DIY foaming hand soap
    Heads thrown back & mouths wide-opened in joy on the bounce houses with friends
    Resisting the hot, cheesy NY pizza
    Perfect timing
    Indoor play place & hand sanitizer
    Finding just what I wanted is on sale & I can use my coupon-that I remembered to bring!
    Living below our means
    Bobby pins
    Dog returning home. For the 3rd time. Before we knew he was lost.
    Another grown-up in the car (worth repeating)


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    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Thankful for...

    Thankful for.. 
    • finding Don't Let The Pigeon Ride The Bus at the library
    • W Kids. God, I could just give Wegmans a big hug
    • sisters. at last!
    • open chicken souvlaki. even if i had to pass on the warm pita
    • 1st parent/teacher conference. it's official: they know he's special! I get to be his mom. Proud. Tear. Smile. Tear.
    • Agave Nectar on the fixings bar. what a surprise! again, hugging Wegmans
    • old ladies fawning over the babies
    • smiling at strangers. getting a smile back
    • instant answers via facebook pleas
    • rear entertainment system & wireless headphones
    • Psalm 119: 65

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    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Thankful for

    Thankful for..
    1. Overhearing Carter say, "daddy, since my mom is so sick I'd like to do something nice for her. Like get her flowers.."
    2. Lilah choosing Annie. Singing "Dumb Dog". Victory!
    3. Kids squealing & giggling on the trampoline
    4. Wegmans label on EVOO reminds me of NY
    5. singing small as a mustard seed altogether at bedtime
    6. Serendipity on TV when I'm stuck on the sofa in cough syrup coma
    7. Maid service Groupon


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    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Thankful: in sickness

    I'm thankful for... 
    1. Lilah putting away the silverware (even if she sorts them on the floor & does it with PB on her fingers) 
    2. walk-in clinics
    3. trader joes peppermint tea
    4. playing beauty salon & restaurant perfectly disguising mommy resting
    5. homemade french onion soup w/melted gruyere
    6. michael buble christmas
    7. baby's 3 hr naps
    8. 3 y/o watching an entire movie
    9. 600mg ibuprofen leftover from cesarean
    10. steamy showers
    11. daniel taking care of kids, letting me sleep til 8 with a full day of work ahead
    12. alone time in the waiting room to read one thousand gifts. unwrapping the secret to joy & contentment! life-altering truths. possibly the most important book i've read in years.
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    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    thankful for: the things she says




    I'm thankful for the things she says
    that make me have to press my lips together & silently chant "dont laugh. don't laugh. don't laugh"
     
    like this conversation the other day (just after she'd made her 38th bad choice of the day)
    Me (quite fed up):  "Lilah, make GOOD CHOICES!"
    Lilah (not the least bit rattled): "It's okay mommy. Atchuawy, I decided I'm going to be a bad guy. Like the bad mommy on Tangled."
    This is my daughter on her 3rd birthday this year.
    I know, not the conventional snapshot, especially not posted blogs.
    If you know her or you've read much about her here you'll agree it's very much captures Lilah.
    She's fierce.
    I affectionately refer to her as the "Lepiane" (my maiden name) of our kids.
    Boy, do I have my work cut out for me. Still, she makes me laugh just as much as she makes me want to eat carbs. Pin It

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Thankful: he's compassionate

    I'm deeply grateful...
    my son is compassionate 
    He's sensitive and empathetic.
    While I like to think he takes after eh.em..moi, after all I was voted "most understanding" in the senior superlatives (ever even heard of that category? I know, nobody has, but it's true), I think it may be God-given. He's been this way since toddler-hood. As early as in 2 year old class at church I got reports similar to the one from his Kindergarten teacher above. My heart is relieved and proud.
    And thank you to the teachers who take the time to share this good stuff. Pin It

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Giving Thanks. #1: for missing them.

    "The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live... He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything" -Albert Schweitzer, Reverence for Life
    In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll share something I'm thankful for each weekday til Turkey day. Even moreso because I am starting to see the key to joy and contentment may be a spirit of gratitude for the little things in life. As though I finally "get it" that this is the time of my life, I am working toward the discipline of gratefulness for the gifts that can be found even in the mundane rituals of life.
    So today:
    I'm thankful for missing my kids
    for the opportunity to get the break from them I so desperately need at times; just long enough to miss them. So when they crawl into bed ready for breakfast before the sun deems in morning, I am truly happy to feel their cold feet digging nestling into my side under the covers.
    Your turn...
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    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Delicious Roast Chicken & a WINNER


    To the faithful Ina Garten's recipe (here), I've made some adjustments to make it my own delicious roast chicken. Adding butter between the skin & the breast, using rosemary, lemon & garlic aromatics are the biggest changes. It's simple & delicious.
    The worst part is cleaning out the innards. Ick! If you're going to do the dirty work on one, buy & roast an additional one. This is primarily the reason I don't roast veges in the pan like Ina does. I need the space in the pan for the other bird. The aromatics stuffed in the cavity are just the right touch. To roast 2 like I do: double the recipe below, but not the cooking time.
    Eat one tonight & use the meat from the other for another meal during the week.
    and
    We have a winner of Seeds Family music!
    Congratulations to:
    Commenter #2: BECKY
    contact me via tinampoulsen@gmail dot com
    with your shipping info
    to claim your new CD!


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    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Colic: hiding in homes, killing joy & confidence.

    If that title seems a bit dramatic, consider yourself blessed; you are among the parents that have never had a baby with colic.

    At 3 months, their personalities are so different that it was only when I looked through old photos that I saw such resemblance. 
    Those kissable lips & dark, sparkly eyes, they melt me.

    ~
    We've been harboring a secret. Treasuring it, really.
    We both know it and as it gets confirmed throughout the day we glance knowingly at one another but only seldom say it out loud. 
    For fear we'll jinx it. (Just in case that sort of thing is real).
    Clara Lily does not have colic.
    She is our very first baby without it.
    We may or may not be struggling with favoring her for it.

    Dear mom of a baby 4weeks to 3-4m old who cries without reason (you've checked off fed, dry, & rested) for the majority of their waking hours, colic is not kidding around. 
    Having a baby without it, has all the more confirmed what we already knew about the other two. 

    It's a surefire kill-joy of this time with your much-anticipated bundle. It's not your fault.
    It's not because you're over-tired, or over-whelmed, or you're not giving motherhood your best.
    It's not because you got an epidural or had a c-section at birth or because you nurse or bottle-feed.
    It may come as a surprise to you, as it did us, because the babies were so peaceful in the hospital & first week.
    Colic is a real thing, yet irremediable.

    It's okay to put the baby in the safety of the crib for 5 min while you take a shower & re-group.
    It's okay to ask for help, even if it's from the mom that you think is much better than you because her baby sits alone in a swing or bouncer & coos even.
    You WILL get through this.
    And s/he will get over it. It ends
    And just as unbelievable as the thought your 2 y/o will end up potty-trained before kindergarten, your baby can become the most contented, creative, cooperative kid you can't imagine now.

    Here are a couple things that worked for us with babies w/colic & reflux. (yep, we got both.)
    (never read the book, but the 5 S's are fantastic tools)
    Run the vacuum. Run the water. 
    Sometimes we did both at the same time. Bouncing & swaddling all the while.
    (our babies didn't take pacifiers. we tried nearly every one. but by all means give it a try.)
    Most importantly, rehearse: this will pass.




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    Monday, October 24, 2011

    the Lord will bless everything you do

    Just in case, like me, you're taking Him at His Word & trusting His promises.
    Or perhaps you're wondering why you're giving all you've got are still coming up short...obey His commands, follow Him & YOU WILL BE BLESSED!
    His resources are greater than yours.
    His grace is sufficient.
    His love is unconditional.
    His peace passes understanding. Pin It

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    old town alexandria, overnight guests

    My mom came into town last weekend. She got in at 2 am & surprised the kids that morning. They LOVE them some Grammie-time. I'm so glad because I love free babysitting her company too.


    Dan & I headed to Busch Gardens to ride the roller coasters one evening. 
    The park transforms into Howl-o-Scream for the month of October and boy did I scream once the sun went down & I'm not just talking about on the roller coasters. I ran at 7.0 treadmill speed through these haunted pathways occupied by bloody-chain-saw holding creeps lurking in the shadows, waiting to scare the tar out of passersby. NOT for the easily-startled, like myself. Dan found it quite comical, my targeting myself by wearing my fear on my sleeve-that is. We had a blast once we sped past to the roller coasters.  (Dans iPhone fell out on the last one & we deemed it gone forever. Can you believe someone turned it into lost & found & we got it back a few days later?!)

    The girls & I followed mom up to Alexandria for a couple of days, where she was working. I lived in DC for awhile as a flight attendant, based at Dulles. I'd always heard if I loved the charm of Georgetown, I should head to Old Town Alexandria, but had never made the trip over the bridge.
    If strolling down brick sidewalks, lined with centuries-old brownstones & boutique shops is your thing, be sure to take the trip if you're ever in Northern VA. You can take a water taxi over the Potomac from DC & land right in front of the Chart House restaurant, where you really should treat yourself to Salmon Rockefeller and an over-the-top view. It was delicious.

    I'm sorta cracking up as I write this because in truth, we enjoyed walking down King Street & playing in the park at Union. And I'm still thinking about the Salmon I ate that night watching the sunset over the river. But with an energetic 3 y/o the ambiance is a bit altered by potty trips & lessons in ChickfilA volumes & fancy-schmancy place volumes. (the waiter swore they were kid-friendly & it wasn't any problem).
    With baby barf down the front & back of my shirt, walking in & out of Paper Source & that adorable toy shop was an exercise in humility more than anything. 
    I scored some Christmas goods at Crate & Barrel outlet on Prince Street.
    It was a fun trip. A stop at IKEA & Wegmans on the way was just icing on the cake.
    It's always nice to get away long enough to miss home.

    I got to keep 3 of my friend's 6 kids so she could surprise her husband with an overnight stay sans kiddos for his birthday. What a pleasure to see this on my sofa that morning.
    my 2 sandwiching her 3 in the middle. they did this on their own.

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    Friday, October 14, 2011

    The Best Classic Apple Pie.


    When it comes to the classics, I turn to Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe Cookbook and it never disappoints. My #1 cookbook recommendation, especially to a new cook or new wife looking to impress (which is why I bought it years ago).
    Also recommend this Emile Henry pie plate.
    Get them both & you're golden. Like the pie. Isn't it pretty?

    I make just a couple minor adjustments to the recipe. (slicing the apples with my food processor slicing disc blade is the biggest variation)

    Classic Apple Pie
    (adapted from The New Best Recipe cookbook)
    Basic Pie Dough (for 2-9in pies ) I use Pilsbury refrigerated crusts
    2 T flour
    3 Granny Smith (1 1/2 lbs), peeled & cored
    4 McIntosh (2lbs), peeled & cored
    1 T lemon juice
    3/4 c sugar, plus 1 Tbsp for top
    1/4 t nutmeg
    1/4 t cinnamon
    1/8 t allspice
    1/4 t salt
    1 lg egg white, beaten lightly

    Place oven rack at lowest position & place lined baking sheet on it.
    Preheat to 500 degrees.
    Let dough stand at room temp for 1 hr. (until malleable)
    Line the bottom of a 9in pie plate with 1 of the dough circles. (may want to roll out to stretch slightly)

    Peel & core the apples.

    Attach the slicing disc blade to your food processor & pulse the apples through in batches. (or slice by hand first in quarters & then again about 1/4 in-1/2 in slices to get same effect)
    Add sliced apples to a large mixing bowl. 
    Toss with lemon juice
    Mix sugar, spices & flour in a small bowl & toss with apples.
    Pile the apple mix (including juices) onto crust in pie plate, mounding at the center.

    Roll out the remaining circle to stretch slightly (11-12 in) & place carefully on top of apples.
    Tuck the top dough under the edges of the bottom dough & make it look pretty.
    Cut 4 small slices in center. (see bottom picture)
    Brush with egg whites.
    Sprinkle with 1 T of sugar.

    Place on top of baking sheet in oven.
    Then turn oven down to 425 degrees. Bake for 25 min. (til top is golden)
    Turn oven temp down to 375 degrees. Bake for 30-35 min longer.
    (at 20 min into baking at this temp I typically put my pie crust shield on-you could use foil-to keep from getting too brown).

    I snapped this as soon as it came out of the oven.
    Transfer to a wire rack; cool to room temp at least 4 hours.
    Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
    Be impressed with yourself! Look at that pie. You're a rock star!
    Share it with your fussiest pie pals. Pin It

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    #2 was to be a playmate for #1, a witness


    Once, I heard Natalie Portman describe siblings as a witness to your life.
    She didn't have siblings, no one to rehearse her life with, and has little memory from early childhood.
    I had never thought of siblings that way. 

    Carter had colic. Real, diagnosed colic as a baby. He & I were at health risk just before his emergency csection, from which I suffered complications for months. Still, we always planned on trying for #2.
    As a witness to his life.
    I loved how she put that. Don't you?
    I picture my brothers & I cracking up over something my mom did (bill on the fridge) or wore (fish shirt) or the phrases my dad says (take that to the north star bank) & the inflection he uses (yeah..right). 
    Just a couple words can bring back a flood of memories we share and I can't imagine not having that familial bond. 

    Like many parents expecting #2, we hoped assumed "he'd have someone to play with now". 

    Well, 3 years in and I could nearly count on my hands the times they've happily played together.

    He is cautious.

     She is wild.

    He's still & she is busy. He is fair & she's radical. 
    They have plenty of similarities, but so far their differences dominate their relationship.

    However,
    ask anyone who is with one of them alone, they always think of the other, unprompted. 
    For this I am deeply grateful because it's my only indication that deep down they truly love & care for each other. A sticker at the Dr, a sucker at the salon, even on birthday trips with uncles they pick out something for the other, who isn't present. 
    Trust me, to this I cling.

    Carter came home from school on Lilah's birthday with this note. (pictured above)
    My eyes teared when I found it among his homework papers.
    He loves her. 
    He tells her that her baby doll isn't real. 
    (though she's so convinced she is that daddy had to bring the doll, 
    {buckled in clara's car seat} to the store.)
    He will rip anything that is his out of her hands & tattles on her every move.
    But she can hardly wait for him to get home from school. 
    (she raided his drawers during her naptime & woke up dressed this way)

    She hit him in the face tonight.
    Twice.
    For no good reason.
    But he loves her. 
     ~~~
    Here's to hoping the love they are hiding so well inside for each other translates into shared memories and a few laughs. 
    Even if at my expense.
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    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    chicken chili

    Chicken Chili
    (adapted from this recipe)

    • 2 chopped yellow onions 
    • olive oil for pan & for rubbing chicken
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2-4 your choice-red, orange, yellow bell peppers (seeded, chopped bite size)
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp Franks hot sauce (or dried red pepper flakes)
    • 2 tsp salt, plus more for chicken
    • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
    • 2 (14 oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes
    • 5 chicken breasts
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    sour cream, shredded cheddar & sliced green onions (scallions) & our family favorite, lime tortilla chips (or plain) for toppings.

    Cook the onions in oil (maybe 1/8 cup) over medium-low heat til translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. 
    Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce (or pepper flakes), & salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes & bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    FOR CHICKEN:
    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    Rub the chicken with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 30-35 min, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Shred or chop chicken, your preference. Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.
    Top with cheese, sour cream & pinch of chopped scallions. Serve with lime tortilla chips or regular chips & a lime wedge.
    Even better the next day.
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    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Pepping up our morning ritual; a perfect cup of coffee trick

    Coffee. It's the ritual for me.
    Moreso than the taste or even the caffeine's effects.
    Many mornings start with a 3 y/o at my bedside b/c she's "hundree" or "firstee" & has a smelly diaper, followed by a kindergartener tattling on his sister, whom I've ignored against my better judgement. Now in addition to the dirty diaper, I have to clean milk from the floor because she got it herself when I pretended not to hear her & stayed in bed.

    Hearing the sounds of my husband prepping our morning brew is simply something to look forward to through the needs I have to meet before my eyes are even adjusted to the light.
    (wrote about it here and about not taking it for granted here)

    Surprisingly, I've considered giving up my beloved coffee ritual several times over the past year for various health reasons. But, I just can't don't.
    I've moved onto trying to add a bit of pep to our morning coffee ritual.
    Thought about getting a Keurig. Do you have one? Like it?

    Here's our typical routine:
    Joe's Dark Roast (Dan's fav, while I'm a Med Roast girl) HIGHLY RECOMMEND at only $4.99, comes whole bean, but you can grind right there at TJs.
    Agave Nectar is my choice sweetener. Acquired taste but better for you. (Lower Glycemic Index)

    TJs Pumpkin Spice blend was just the added pep we needed.
    And holy moly is it good with a dollop (or 2!) of this creamy dreamy Pumpkin ice cream. 
    I can't afford the calories of the ice cream so I've been just adding cream to this PS blend & it's tasty. 

    PS: Did you know about the 1/2 cup per 8 cups of coffee trick?
    Time saver. Fool-proof. I found the tip while working at Williams-Sonoma years ago in Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. 
    While we're talking about Ina, her
    Barefoot Contessa's Parties is my favorite.
    I've read it cover to cover. Find her approach to entertaining useful & inspiring. Serving the boss something unexpected like cheeseburgers instead of something fancy. And giving your guests the feeling that you've gone to no trouble by preparing ahead of time & spending time with them when they arrive. Pin It

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    laughing their granny panties off

    I went on my first roller coaster in years this summer and went back again for more. I laughed so hard nothing came out. What a thrill! 
    The thrill is more thrilling after you've had a baby (or 3) and your scars have healed enough to ride safely, but you can feel them enough to know the miracle of life.
    It feels reckless in the very best way. I highly recommend this roller coaster, it will rend you breathless from the beginning when you are up 205 feet in the air & the ride STOPS. It hangs you there & you cannot see the track below you! That's just the beginning.

    My first ride got my mind spinning about having fun and how little I have. I take the responsible, grown-up road to a fault.(see the 3rd row above. ok. sometimes 2nd row).
    Since then I'm letting my kids chase me and jumping on the trampoline with them instead of watching from my grown-up chair, glancing at my iPhone every few seconds.
    The concert and a few other things we did to celebrate my birthday last weekend were all a part of my quest to act my age. 
    Come on, I'm 31. This is the time of my life! Look at those ladies up there! Laughing their granny panties off...
    Do you live like the 1st row or the 2nd?
    "Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
    Except when you don’t.
    Because, sometimes, you won’t.

    I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
    You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch. You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

    And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.


    You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
    Do you dare to stay out? 
    Do you dare to go in? 
    How much can you lose? 
    How much can you win?"
    -Oh the Places You'll Go Dr. Seuss

    image

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    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    rejoice always, pray continually, He will do it


    We've rounded the 1 year anniversary of this enormous step of faith.
    The only security we had for nearly every step was that God gave us His word & He is faithful.
    We continue to reap the rewards of trusting Him
    and have taken full advantage of the bounty here on this step.
    While our minds were set on it being more of a "landing", it became clear almost immediately that it was just a "step", shedding more light on values & dreams.
    That's the thing about this journey that is life, it's a journey; each step having a purpose (sometimes unknown until you've moved on); each step requiring sufficient grace for it's trials & contentment for it's benefits.
    If you need a little push toward the next step, read this.


    We cling to the first part of the scripture above to remain faithful where we are now
    and the second part as we look toward what is ahead.
    Hope you're clinging to it too!
    Because that means you're brave enough to believe that 
    there is One bigger than you
    who loves you 
    & died to grace you with forgiveness you when you fall short
    & has called you to a life greater than your human resources.




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    Monday, September 26, 2011

    31 is fun! Jason Mraz, who knew?

    Birthdays aren't so overrated afterall. Celebrating this one was right up there with 11 year old sleepover/choreographing dance parties!
    A whole weekend of celebrating & "whatever you want to do, it's your birthday" kicked off when I walked in the door Friday afternoon to a kitchen full of vibrant bouquets & dark chocolate! (Good Lord, I hit the jackpot with this man!)
    My mom is in town and my kids are crazy about her and I'm crazy about the spontaneous grown up outings with my husband (& sneaking out when the kids don't see her leaving with just me {heaven forbid} for a mani/pedi).
    We indulged in movies (SJP plus NYC & Boston brownstones? YES! smart & funny; go see it.),
    midnight bowling, coffee & dinner,
    and a night alone at the local Westin (where we were upgraded to a HEAVENLY suite; the bathtub, the double-headed shower, the beds...oh...the beds. We've been hooked on the Heavenly beds since our honeymoon. You simply must try it. Be ware. You'll never be satisfied with another hotel bed again.)
    The best of the best was the Jason Mraz concert down in VA Beach!
    What a musical adventure!!
    Colbie Calliat opened & as expected, she was pitch perfect with her smoky voice singing her cotton candy love songs. (She did a nice cover of The Script's Breakeven too).
    BUT, 
    JASON. Holy bananas! I had no idea! 
    Radio hits just don't capture this guy's talent. 
    He & his band were sensational!
    He got the party started with Pennies from Heaven (Elf style) certainly sending me the message that this wouldn't just be a night of silly love songs, although he did sing that song & his own,  Remedy and I'm Yours and Colbie joined him for crowd-pleasing, Lucky.

    I shimmied til my shoulders hurt & danced my hips off when I wasn't stilled by his wide-ranged talent. Seriously; the radio just doesn't capture it. Did I already say that?
    He set spanned fun covers of In Other Words, Signed Sealed Delivered, even Won't You Be My Neighbor to his own emotionally-charged Beautiful Mess and I Won't Give Up On You. (he had me at "when i look into your eyes it's like watching the night sky or a beautiful sunrise; so much they hold" um. yes. please. continue.)
    I love him for his clever songwriting and like most fans, his charming melodies. 
    "You know what to do to turn me on til I write a song about you..Sister, You've Got It All" from Butterfly among my favorites (which it can be because I'm married. just saying.)
    My first download after the concert: What Mama Say 
    LOVE IT! Get it. Especially if you're married with kids. (gotta get past the opening-it really only works live. you'll know what i mean)

    It was wildly entertaining. Take it from this surprised fan, if he comes nearby, get yourself a ticket. And like he said when he took the stage, the night isn't for the grumpy. 
    I had a great weekend. Thank you for the thoughtful messages, flowers, and mom & Dan for making me feel so special. Pin It

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Mid-Kid is loving all the attention

    Guess who's having no trouble adjusting to big brother off at Kindergarten all day? 
    Spur of the moment snack craving? Indulged
    Sparkly new shoes? You got it
    We've made these delicious pumpkin cupcakes floating around Pinterest. 
    With just 2 ingredients: pumpkin & yellow cake mix, they're the perfect baking project for a soon-to-be 3 year old.
    And yes, they are delicious. (I add a splash of canola oil whenever I do these box cake plus pumpkin recipes, just because I like throwing things into the Kitchen Aid mixer bowl. Okay. I added dashes of cinnamon & nutmeg too.).

    And made this adorable owl also found on Pinterest.
    We've been to Chick-fil-A, the library, Target, and the gym.
    And that was just the first week!
    Today, we signed up for ballet/introduction to dance. Oh. My.
    I think I'm going to LOVE this new phase with Mid-Kid and her charming little sister all day long.


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