Monthly Archives: May 2011

It’s Sharing Time!

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On Brian’s agenda for the three day weekend was to paint the garage.  Personally, I have a lot of things on my “to do” list before the color of the garage, but I knew it would look better when it was done.  I told Brian that I wasn’t spending three days painting because I enjoyed it, but because I was being a supportive wife (sometimes he needs a reminder).  “Just like a good bra.” he said.  Gotta love a husband that compares you to an undergarment.  Anyway, despite three days of painting, we managed to have some fun too.  I went to a really awesome craft fair on Sunday called, Patchwork”

Check out these Etsy sellers, some of my favorites from Patchwork:

mandalanda.etsy.com Purses, wallets and more made from vintage books and their pages

bysimple.etsy.com Cute baby gifts

KaitEmerson.com Fun clothing for kids

childreninspiredesign.com  Really cute artwork/posters in a variety of languages (check out their site, they have a drawing going on currently)

But I should also tell you about some other people who make handmade stuff…

First up, my dear friend, Juanita.  She is from South Africa and studied interior design.  She has started a clothing company called Swan and Hen designs.  (Super cute name too, because it is the first parts of her maiden name and her married name).  Check out swanandhen.com for darling baby clothes, cute aprons, and fun accessories too.  She is so talented and can custom make something for you too!

My cousin, Jordan, makes these cutest hair clips and sells them for a very reasonable price.  They look adorable on headbands on babies, but she sports them all the time too and they are so cute!  She has made them for sports teams, and in school colors, all kinds!  Check out the different designs on facebook at Flowers for All.  Just send her a note and tell her what you are interested in.  Her prices are around $5, what a steal!

My mom is kind of like Martha Stewart.  In a lot of ways she is different, for one, she never spent time behind bars as far as I know, but it seems like she is good at all the things Martha is good at, cooking, sewing, crafts, and gardening.  One thing she isn’t good at is the computer.  So you won’t find an online shop of her stuff, or a page on facebook of her creations, but she makes nursing covers, like the “Hooter Hider” for $20 with a matching burp cloth and a pocket in the corner of the cover to keep the cloth in.  If you are in the market for the perfect baby shower gift, this is it, really!  I used mine all the time.  You can contact her at: darice316@yahoo.com

On a completely different note, Brian and I saw the movie, Forks over Knives.  It is a documentary that talks about how much of the food that we eat is actually making us sick, overweight, lethargic, etc.  At one point a doctor says something along the lines of “eating a plant-based diet might seem extreme, but thousands of Americans will go under the knife for heart disease, and many other preventable reasons, and I think that is extreme.”  And so that is where the title comes from, choosing to address the problem instead of just the symptoms.  I realized that the American diet adds vegetables like they are an afterthought.  It is a side dish to the main meal.  And so, I have three new recipes that I have recently made that turned out really good.

Garbanzo Bean Salad (from Epicurious.com)

  • 2 15 1/2-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup toasted shelled pumpkin seeds

Toss all ingredients except pumpkin seeds in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Veggie Burgers with Bulgur and Beans (Turned out so good!  Also, I froze half before cooking them and made 2 meals.  From Epicurious.com)

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional for brushing
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro sprigs
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 4 slices multi-grain bread,toasted

Cook half of onion with 1/4 teaspoon salt in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add bulgur and water and cook, covered, over low heat until water is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in beans and soy sauce.  Pulse bulgur mixture, walnuts, garlic, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, a rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining onion in a food processor until finely chopped.

Form rounded 1/2 cups of mixture into 4 (31/2-inch-diameter) patties. Chill at least 10 minutes.  While patties chill, stir together mayonnaise, zest, and juice.

Brush patties all over with oil.  Oil grill sheet, then grill burgers on grill sheet, covered only if using a gas grill, carefully turning once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total.

Serve burgers open-faced on toast with lime mayonnaise.

*I used black beans because that is what I had, also, I just used a frying pan to cook them)

Cucumber Peanut Salad (Super easy, and perfect for summer.  From 101cookbooks.com)

3 medium cucumbers, partially peeled
1-2 green serrano chiles, stemmed and minced
1/2 cup / 2.5 ounces / 70 g peanuts, toasted
1/3 cup / 1.5 ounces / 45 g dried large-flake coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon, ghee, clarified butter, or sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
a handful cilantro, chopped

Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and chop into pieces roughly the size of pencil erasers. Just before you’re ready to serve, transfer to a mixing bowl and toss gently with chiles, peanuts, coconut, lemon juice, and sugar.

Over medium heat melt the ghee in a small skillet. When hot stir in the mustard seeds. They are going to sputter and spit a bit, and when this starts to happen, add the cumin for 15-30 seconds, just long enough to toast the spices. Cover with a lid if needed. Remove from heat, stir in the salt, and immediately stir this into the salad. Turn out onto a patter topped with the cilantro.

This isn’t what I intended to write about exactly, which makes my comment about a good bra seem all the more random, but there you have it!  I guess I just wanted to share some things with you: food and crafty finds!  Two of my favorite things!  Let me know if you try one of my recipes out and like it.  Also, let me know if you make any changes that turned out really well.

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Yesterday and Today

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The Pata Family

So, last night was my first night on duty with the quads and their family.  I showed up bearing no gifts (is that bad?), but I did bring food.  Always a good thing, right?  For those of you who know me, I am not really a baby person.  I like my own babies, but even then I appreciate it when they get out of the newborn phase.  But honestly, they were really cute!  They were small, but not so small that they were sickly looking.  They just looked so perfectly proportioned and miniature.  It was funny to hear the parents describe one as having a big head, because really, you are talking about a 4 lb. baby, how big of a head can he really have?  And another is nicknamed “The General”, though I found him to be the least bit intimidating.  I stayed for about 2 1/2 hours, doing dishes, folding laundry, playing with big brother and holding tiny little babies.  The nervous feeling of walking into someone’s house that I didn’t know quickly went away as soon as I met the family.  They were so easy-going, and it seemed like I would have picked them to be friends if I had met them before this encounter anyway.  I am also pleased to say that others have made their way over to help out, including my sister (thanks Stacy!).  I have spread the word to my church and a few people have contacted Misty about arranging a time to go over there.  I thought that they were probably hooked up with diapers or something, but they are not, so if you want to give the gift of diapers, they go through 35 a day!  That is more than a pack a day.

And on a completely different note…today was the last day of the Oprah show.  I haven’t watched Oprah since before we moved to Germany because that was the last time we had a TV, but I am still so bummed!  I grew up on Oprah!  I never was a super faithful follower, but it seems like I have watched her shows since the beginning.  I was sad when Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters no longer did 20/20, but this is a WAY bigger deal to me.  I think it has something to do with getting older.  It makes me feel like my mom talking about the Mary Tyler Moore Show or something.  So, despite my 3 year Oprah hiatus, I watched the finale in a big way.  Leave it to my friend Tiffany to a throw an Oprah Farewell Party, complete with Oprah cookies from Cinderella Cakes.  Everybody needs a Tiffany in their life if they don’t have one.  Her kids are teenagers now, so she appreciates the pitter patter of little feet in her house and she even told me that she loves the hand prints my girls leave behind.  I know!  Can you believe it?  So, go out there and find someone with older children because they will love to take care of yours!  Piper and I decided that it was the perfect occasion to wear a tiara, why not?

With that said, though, the finale was a bit of a disappointment.  It felt like my days in speech and debate.  Oprah seemed very scripted and I was thinking that if I were still in high school perhaps I would have chosen her speech over Barbara Bush for my ora’toracle interpretation.  (Whoa, pulled that one out of the back of my brain.  I haven’t thought of, nor did I even remember that I remembered my Barbara Bush speech until right now!  Shout out to Mrs. Franzen the best speech and debate coach and teacher out there 😉 )  But thankfully this new technology stuff allowed us to watch yesterday’s episode too, which was super fun.  Plus, we had cute specialty Oprah cookies to eat, that’s always fun!

An Oprah Occasion

goofy

Complete with Oprah cookies

Our yummy snacks

The kiddos who were having way too much fun by themselves while we were watching Oprah

This weather calls for FUN!

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I love when there isn’t much on the agenda and yet everything falls into place to make for the perfect day.  It started on Saturday with tickets to the L.A. Philharmonic which didn’t start until 8pm.  So we had the whole day and began it by (doing what I love to do when we don’t have anything planned) going on a “destination walk”.  That is what I call it when I leave the house and follow garage sale signs around the neighborhood seeing what kind of finds I come across.  It is much more exciting than just walking a mile up a street and a mile back.  You don’t know exactly where you will end up!  And then of course, the walk wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to C’est Si Bon.  I resisted the temptation and left empty handed while Brian got a coffee and a pain chocolat (it was pretty much necessary that I took one bite).  After that, because apparently last week was “bike to work” week or something, the nearby bike shop was doing a group bike ride around the back bay.  Brian was going to take Piper, but then it turned into a family affair.  Eleven miles was definitely the furthest I had biked in a LONG time which left my hiney pretty darn sore the next day.  The wind in Tatum’s face must have been relaxing because she fell asleep in the WeeRide around mile 3, at which point we had to switch her with Piper who was in the not-so-safe trailer that was lacking all but a lap belt.  After a quick cry, Tatum managed to fall back asleep in the most uncomfortable looking position with her helmet on, poor baby.  Nearing the end of our trek we stopped by Pearson’s Port so Brian and Piper could pick out a fish for lunch.  Let me just tell you about Pearson’s Port.  It is like stepping back in time!  And somehow it has its loyal Newport Beach yuppies keeping it in business.  It is a little shack floating at the end of a dock which looks like it hasn’t changed in 50 years.  A boat pulled up and buckets of live shrimp where dumped into these bins.  Brian and Piper had been there before, but this was my first time, and boy was it an adventure!  After we came home the three of us napped for two hours!  In the meantime, Piper destroyed the playroom.  And then it was a mad rush to get out of the house for our date night! (literally it was a mad rush, because back in October we missed our performance to see The Phantom of the Opera due to stupid L.A. traffic)

Pearson's Port with Piper's fish of choice, one with eyeballs.

Tatum and the ancient decor

date night

My aunt and cousin watched the girls and stayed the night, and while nothing was on Sunday’s agenda, it turned into a lovely afternoon on Balboa Island.  Piper and I shared a chocolate covered banana, because we have decided that we can’t go there without doing so.  Then, we came home and it seemed like the perfect time to take off Piper’s training wheels.  After she got dressed in long pants, long sleeves and gloves, she went out there and did it like it was nothing.  In all of 2 minutes she was riding on two wheels!  (balance bikes are the best practice)

Here she comes!

And now today it was back to the daily grind for the man of the house and back to “girl time” as Piper likes to call it.  We were inspired by a scene from Ramona and Beazus where Ramona and her father create a giant picture.  And so today, on our agenda was to create a giant picture thanks to the roll of moving paper that has had so many uses since Brian’s parents moved and gave us this roll.  Piper wanted me to draw a castle in the clouds.  And while we were almost finished she wanted a second, smaller castle on another cloud.  That castle was going to be smaller because it was further away.  It is in Germany, and the big castle is in America.

Piper working on her castle

She wrote "America" next to this one and gave it a brush of dark blue paint above because it is nighttime in America

She wrote "America" next to this one and gave it a brush of dark blue paint above because it is nighttime in America

Here she wrote "Germany" and gave it some light blue paint above it because it is daytime

Here she wrote "Germany" and gave it some light blue paint above it because it is daytime

Tatum using a crayon before she discovered the paint and that it actually doesn't taste as good as it looks

Our longest painting! (before we added our German castle)


And while I said my unexpected fun weekend started on Saturday, it actually started on Friday.  I forgot about our lovely lemonade stand!  We have been wanting to sell lemonade after I purchased a little set at Ross for $2.99 (24 cups, a stirring spoon, table cloth and dry erase marker, score!) We had gotten some lemons off a friends tree on Wednesday, and on Friday we decided to have it.  Fifty cents for a cup of homemade lemonade (which was delicious by the way) and fifty cents for a mini cupcake.  An hour and a half later, we were sold out of lemonade and had made $21!  I love our house for the sheer fact that it is the perfect location for lemonade stands!  I mean, honestly, wouldn’t you have stopped too?

Piper copied the word "Lemonade" from the box before I even got out there. That is supposed to say "50" underneath if you couldn't tell.

And last, but not least, since I seem to have included tons of pictures already, I thought I would add these ones too of the girls enjoying the juice popsicles we made last week.  Tatum is looking way too adorable in her little swim bottoms and hat and Piper is sporting a veil that became part of her wardrobe for about two weeks until I stepped on it and tore it.

Cold!

Piper holding them for the camera

Four times the fun

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My friend Misty, who is neonatal nurse, called me a few weeks ago to tell me about quadruplets who were recently born at her hospital.  This couple has a 2 1/2 year old and with the help of artificial insemination, thought they were expecting twins.  They moved to Hawaii to be close to family to help out with their growing family.  Well, the twins turned into quads and they were forced to relocate back to southern California for medical care.  So here they are now, suddenly a family of 7, with their support system in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  That is about the extent of the details that I know.  However, I do know how difficult it is to have a newborn let alone four.  And I do know what it is like to have a toddler vying for your attention when you seem to be to caught up with the baby (or in this case, babies).  And I do know what it is like to have a baby thousands of miles away from your family.  Those are things I do know.  Misty called me and asked me if I would tell the ladies in my Bible study group and pass the word along to friends and see if they would be willing to help because she was hoping to start a schedule of visitors who could bring a meal, help with feedings, do laundry, etc.  I said, “Totally!” and then I hung up the phone and in my head said, “I don’t really want to.”

I take things too personal.  If someone didn’t want to help out, I would feel like they didn’t want to help me and weren’t interested in what I had to share with them.  I know that what one person is passionate about, others may not be, but I still take things to heart and for that reason I didn’t want to spread the word.  And then conviction came and I heard in my head, “Whatever you do unto the least of these you do unto me”.  How completely selfish of me!  I wasn’t willing to tell people of the very real needs that having quadruplets entails because I didn’t want to get my feelings hurt!  Somewhere in the midst I made it about me!  And so I went to Bible Study the next morning and told the group of women that I meet with about this family and about the internal battle I had with myself the night before.  I have shared in my blog that my goal is to live intentionally.  I don’t want to live each and every day for myself, but to live a life that is an example to my kids and to others and here, my friend Misty was doing that, and giving me the opportunity to do so as well.

The local newspaper wrote a story about them and mentioned in there that they would be receiving help from the local churches.  Misty told me, “It’s in the paper now, so I hope this all works out!”  It hasn’t worked out the way she or I would have liked, a few people showed interest and for every little bit I am sure the family is grateful.  But I have decided to continue to use my voice in anyway I can and get the word out there about this family in need.  This isn’t about me, this is about Karen and Richard Pata and their four little blessings (and struggles) that just entered this world.  I don’t have much to give in the way of finances, or even time since I have my own 2 kids to take care of.  In fact, the idea of stepping into someone’s house that I don’t know is intimidating as I don’t consider myself a “baby person”, but I have told Misty to put me down for Tuesday nights for 4 weeks because that is something manageable and feasible for me at this time.

If you would like to help in anyway, either with your physical presence in their house or by sending them a note of encouragement, some clothes, or financially, you can contact the family directly at Patakeikis@yahoo.com

I expect nothing less than for this internal battle I had with myself to be turned into another unexpected joy!

A love that transforms

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I wasn’t looking to become a mother.  Motherhood came to me.  I mean, I guess that is what happens when you are married and aren’t always so good about “taking your medicine”, but still it came as a shock.  I remember crying when I found out I was pregnant.  Not the normal tears of joy that most women shed when they have been married for 3 years and find out their family will be expanding.  But I was actually really scared (sidenote:  I just realized that my last entry included me crying about the upcoming birth of my child.  And again, they were not tears of joy.  Really, I do love being a mom. I guess it has to grow on me a bit more than it does on others.)  I had a a few friends with kids, and my sisters, of course.  And though I loved kids, I found them to be extremely high maintenance.  I saw people needing to cancel dinner plans because of their sick child.  Or be up all night cleaning up throw up.  And these kids weren’t going anywhere, it wasn’t like you have them for a week, or two, but for life!  Who can ever decide that they are ready to take the step and make a decision that will forever change their life?!  I just remember being glad that I was not in that boat.  But I guess God knew I couldn’t make that decision, so it was made for me.  And yes my life is forever changed.

The love for a child is a love that transforms you.

This Mother’s Day weekend was quite uneventful.  Everyone in the house was sick.  We had one baby throwing up, another with a high fever, I had a sore throat and was just feeling fatigued, and Brian got a cold.  The day that was going to be celebrated with brunch on the beach ended up with family nap time being the highlight of the day.  But do you know what?  I didn’t want to be any other place.  In fact, on Saturday night I wanted to go to church because I knew we wouldn’t be able to go on Sunday because of the sick kids.  So, I was just going to go by myself.  Piper was really emotional over me going.  Not crying, but wanting to know all the details of when I was coming back and so on.  And as I closed the door Tatum started crying.  I got about one block before I turned around.  Why was I going to go to church when my kids clearly wanted their mom?  They didn’t need me.  Everyone was happily playing blocks when I returned 3 minutes later.  But they wanted me.  They wanted their mommy, their nurturer, their caretaker and I wanted to be there for them.  I wanted to be there with all their sickness instead of anywhere else in the world because I love them.  I would cancel dinner if I needed to, I would do almost anything because there are few things in the world that are more important than my role as their mother.  I may be mildly influential to my friends, and somewhat to my husband.  But the role that I play in my girls’ life is priceless.  There is no one in their first 18 years of life that will have spent as many hours with them as I have.  Who would have thought that even the most difficult moments of my job (my worst day of teaching was easier than being sick and taking care of two sickies) would produce so much joy.

And so for Mother’s day I opened a new pair of TOMS and I got a fill-in-the-blank card from Piper (and Tatum too.  Apparently, she did the crumpling of the paper).  I think it was something Brian made up for his students.  It read:

Dear Mom,

I am grateful that you are my mom because…(and that one was blank.  Apparently, a tricky one for a 4 year old.)

My favorite thing that we do together is…playing

I love it when you make…crafts and you have even more stuff than me for crafts

You look really pretty when…you put make-up on

If I had a million dollars I would buy you…a special present like a story

I feel special when you…don’t go somewhere

And that is when I knew that I made the right decision by turning the car around.

Mama and her girls

Feeling Crafty: Paper art and painting

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Super Cute Lantern Craft!

Hello Kitty Lantern

Isn’t this cute?  We went to a Hello Kitty event at the local library and they did this for a craft.  It is so easy!  They printed out a picture of Hello Kitty’s face and the kids cut the ears, eyes, nose, and whiskers out.  Simply attach with glue!  Think of the possibilities that you can make with lanterns!  Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween, Snowmen in the winter, and all kinds of animals too!

Piper doing some painting...of her clothing

The finished product

This was a super cute dress that Piper got from her friend, Ella.  She looked so pretty in white, until she did some coloring with some markers that weren’t washable.  I tried two times to get the marker out and the few spots wouldn’t come out.  So we decided the white dress was the perfect canvas for some more decorating!  We pulled out the paints and we actually think the dress looks really cute with its pastel-y pinks and blues splashed and brushed all over it.  We haven’t washed it yet, but we plan on washing the dress in cold water and vinegar to make the color stay.  So, the next time your kiddo stains up a shirt, turn it into some wearable art!  And to Jill, thanks for the dress…I hope you like it!

"Wall Flowers"

Lots of Dots!

Oh so sweet!

We celebrated Tatum’s 1st birthday this weekend and it was so fun!  One day last week Piper and I were going to make paper mache flowers to use for decorations for the party.  We didn’t have any tissue paper, but we have lots of cute scrapbook paper.  So, we ended up creating some really fun flowers that were really easy to make!  You just take a sheet of paper and start folding it back and forth like an accordion.  Then do the same to another sheet of paper.  Cut a notch in each paper in the middle.  On one sheet cut it on the white side and on the other, cut it on the print side.  And then, with decorative scissors, cut the ends of the sheets of paper (while it is still folded), curved, in a point, however you would like.  Lastly, connect the two together by placing the notches together (s0metimes attaching with a twist tie helps), fan out and staple!  So easy and so cute!  To make one that goes on a stick, like the one I have in the flower pot, just fold 2 pieces of paper together.  And when you have your finished product, you have a little pocket where you can insert the stem.

Let me know if you make any of these crafts.  I’d love to hear how they turn out and if you have any tips or new ideas.  Have fun!