Thursday, September 2, 2010

A new home

literally and figuratively.

We finally made the jump from big city living down to the small town simple life. And I've created a new blog to chronicle the changes, from becoming a stay-at-home mom to updating our new-to-us 50s ranch house.

http://lifeinamericana.wordpress.com/

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

An open letter of apology to my parents

I love my kids. I love them to pieces, but that doesn't mean they don't try my patience and my sanity on a daily basis.

Especially the kidlet. I think her personality is a little too similar to mine. She is strong-willed, stubborn, independent and silly.

See, goofy, goofy girl.

She can go from this:
to this:
in about .03 seconds flat.

(Oh the stink eye. I remember that well. In fact, I think we have many pictures of me giving the stink eye when I'm about the kidlet's age.)

This kid, she's going to give me gray hair, I just know it.

Today, she sat on the steps in our house for five minutes putting on shoes so we could leave to go to daycare. The "conversation" went something like this (and I put conversation in quotes, because there's only so much conversing you do with a 21-month-old who can't verbalize what she's thinking).

Me: Kidlet, do you want to go outside?
Kidlet: Yeah.
Me: Then we need to put on socks and shoes.
Kidlet: No.
Me; Kidlet, do you want to go outside?
Kidlet: (while attempting to put her shoes on - backwards on the wrong foot) Yeah.... (looks up at me with the shoe half on) I did it!!!
Me: Yes you did. Now let's get socks on.
Kidlet: No.


Wash, rinse, repeat. I finally got her socks and shoes on and we went on our merry way, but not without much protest, tears and "NO. I DO IT!" from her.

I'm sorry mom. I finally understand all those times you threatened to make me walk home or said if I kept pouting, my face would get stuck that way.

She's a joy and a delight, but, phew! I fear for the teenage years.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The best chocolate chip cookies in the world

Is there anything better than a homemade chocolate chip cookie, fresh out of the oven? I don't think so.

Unfortunately, not all chocolate chip cookie recipes are created equal. Some make cookies that are too crispy. Some end up too chewy. Some don't have nearly enough chocolate chips in them (a tragedy!)

However, I think I finally found the chocolate chip cookie recipe I can count on.

It's another adapted recipe from the ever useful small town church cookbook.

And it makes the perfect cookie:
Perfect golden brown, loaded with chocolate chips and pecans (optional, of course) and just the right combination of crunchy/chewy. I made these yesterday for our 4th of July supper, and they're almost all gone. I have definitely eaten my fair share today, maybe more.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in the World
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
3 1/2 c. flour
2 t. soda
1 t. salt
1 package chocolate chip (I prefer milk chocolate)
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together butter and sugars until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, stir together flour, soda and salt. Add to butter mixture until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if desired). Drop by spoonful on to baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until just lightly golden brown.

I love that the recipe is basic. It just uses the good stuff: butter, sugar, eggs, flour, soda, salt, etc... There's no oil or crisco or anything (not that those don't make good chocolate chip cookies). The hub *might* say that the chocolate chip to dough ratio is a tad high, but you'll never hear me complain that there's too much chocolate in anything. You can reduce the amount of chocolate chips to 1 cup, though, to cut back on that.

I would go have another one, but I've already had six or seven (or eight, I quit keeping track a while ago) today.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Curly Girly

The kidlet was blessed with beautiful, curly, bright red hair.


Even if it has grown into a rather unsightly curly mullet at the present.


Unfortunately, she was also blessed (saddled?) with a mother who has pin-straight, fine, boring mousy brown hair and hasn't the faintest idea how to deal with a Little Orphan Annie-esque mop.

These adorable ringlets are murder to try and comb out. Thankfully, I have some internet friends who either have curly hair themselves, or have daughters with curly hair, who have given me tips. Tips like I don't have to wash it every time she takes a bath. And combing is essential, especially right before bedtime, lest it turn into a complete birds nest during the night (it usually does). And if it has turned into a complete birds nest, a little spray conditioner, water and scrunching will bring the curls back to shape (and if that doesn't work, the humid summer air will!)

I know in 10 years she'll whine and complain and wish she was born with anything but gorgeous, bright red, curly hair (and if it's anything like the hub's, extremely thick as well) but for now, I'm going to enjoy it - even if it is torture for us both to comb it out.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Worth 1000 words

and smiles and laughs.

Man, I love my kids. As much as they make me want to pull my hair out sometimes, I love them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hot fun in the summer sun

It definitely feels like summer here - temps were in the 90s yesterday. I told the kiddo that we might be able to get his little pool out once the kidlet went down for her nap.

He was very excited!


"Relaxing"

He liked to duck his head under water and let it run down his face. Goofy kid.

He also had to show me how high he could jump.

Saying goodbye as daddy left to run some errands.

Prune Hands!

This kid is 100% goofy.

But he can be normal if he wants.

The kiddo had a great time splashing. I think if the pool would have been a little bigger, I would have joined him!

I'm getting better at taking my photos in manual mode. There are still quite a few that are either just under- or over-exposed or where the focus is off, but it's getting better.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Flowers, flowers everywhere

My MIL has a lovely garden on their farm. It's mostly all classic perennials: iris, daisies, coneflowers, a few peonies and some recently planted poppies.

The irises were all in bloom when we went to visit over Memorial Day and it was so pretty! Irises are my favorite flower and I loved walking around and taking pictures of all the different kinds she has.


Some close-ups:







Aren't they pretty? I think the red, deep purple (almost black) and two-tone brown/yellow are my favorites. I'm hoping that once we finally move to where we'll spend the next 30-40 years that she'll be ready to split them and we can plant some in our garden.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Ever the lady

The kidlet has picked up a rather uncouth new habit.

See:
We've become fond of picking our nose (and occasionally eating it. Joy.). I know it's just a phase and we only mildly correct her if we catch her in the act, but still... Not something I enjoy seeing my little girl do, especially when she's all dressed up!

We spent Sunday celebrating one of the hub's grandma's 90th birthday with family. It was a lovely time and we are very fortunate and blessed that grandma is as sharp and active as she is. And hoo boy, she is still sharp! If you're doing something you're not supposed to be doing, she will let you know!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And Ode to Rhubarb



Oh Rubarb,
Your succulent stalks
Of red and green
Beckon in Springtime
Bake with me!
You cry

Okay, that was pretty bad. Don't worry, I'm not quitting my day job to go into poetry.

I love rhubarb. Love. I remember going to visit my Grandma and cutting a big slice of her rhubarb cake (that was usually after having two or three, or six, of her chocolate chip cookies). The tartness of the juicy rhubarb combined with the spongy, cinamonnyness (I know, not a word) of the cake was heaven.

So I was extremely happy when the hub brought back a ginormous bag of rhubarb from the ILs a few weeks ago. In that time I've managed to bake

4 loaves of rhubarb bread
3 strawberry-rhubarb pies
2 rhubarb dump cake desserts

and a partridge in a pear tree...

That was just with the *first* bag of rhubarb. That doesn't include the *second* bag he brought home last weekend from the ILs.

I had a tragedy last night, though. I had an Epic Pie Crust Fail. Epic.

See, from this angle, it doesn't look too bad. A little brown on the edges, but edible, right?

But you get a little farther away and you start to see the problem.
Pie crust isn't supposed to look like that. Pie crust is supposed to be neat.

Step back a little further and it's plan to see this was a huge failure on my part.
Ugh. Bad. Bad bad bad. And I generally pride myself on being an "expert" on making pie crusts. I know what I did wrong, the humidity in our kitchen (it was around 84 degrees *inside* our house last night) combined with over-mixing the lard into the flour made for a not-very-good dough. It was just sticking and falling apart all over the place, and that was with ample flouring of my counter! Meh. Oh well, it doesn't have to look pretty, just taste good, right?

This is what a proper pie crust is supposed to look like:
From last year's post on strawberry-rhubarb pie. I can make a good pie crust, I really can!

Oh well, at least the rhubarb bread turned out nicely!


Mmmmm..... rhubarby, bready, cinnamony goodness!

Now, what to do with that last bag of rhubarb? I'm thinking preserves, even though it's been a loooong time since I've made any sort of preserves, and I've never done rhubarb. There's always a first time for everything right?

I'm pleased to say all the photos (save the stock rhubarb shot and last year's photo of pie) were all taken with my Canon 50mm F/1.8 lens. I survived without my main lens! But I still miss it. Get well soon lens!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bummer Dude

My lovely DSLR had been acting up lately - wouldn't focus and wouldn't let me take a picture. It's done this before and usually I can just take the lens off, clean the sensors with a soft rubber eraser and I'm good to go.

Only that didn't work this time. So I had to suck it up and take it to the local camera repair place.

The good news is the guy there didn't think it was my camera body. (Phew!)

He thinks it's my lens. My Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS that is the lens I take 99.38% of my photos with.

Boo. :(

I had them go ahead and send it in to get fixed. And this will [hopefully] force me to step outside of my comfort zone and take pics with my prime lens instead of relying on my zoom all the time.

Get well soon little lens! I'll miss you!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Four going on Fourteen

It's been a while, I know. I think I need about 10 extra hours in the day to get everything I want accomplished.

But anyway...


There are days when it seems the kiddo is four going on fourteen. The sass! The attitude! The eye rolls! (The eye rolls are the best; he even had the bakery ladies at Target laughing yesterday). There are days when he's absolutely wonderful, and it makes the tough days even more difficult, because we *know* he can be such a good kid.

I'm sure it's all payback, though, because I know I wasn't an angel child (I know, hard to believe). And I have a feeling the kidlet is going to be even more, oh, spirited.


This is what happens when I leave the hub in charge of the kids while I go out for a run. Thank goodness for washable markers!

And then there are the times when the kids are (somewhat) nicely playing with each other and it just fills my heart with joy.


Not the most flattering pic of the kiddo, but isn't that what moms are for? To embarrass their children every chance they can?

Man, I just love my kids.

Monday, April 26, 2010

iheartfaces - smiles



It's been ages since I've been able to participate in an iheartfaces weekly theme, but I couldn't pass up on this one. The theme this week is smiles, and, thankfully, the kiddo always seems to be ready and willing to smile when I break out the camera. Sometimes it's his goofy KISS smile, but generally, it's his good, old gap-toothed grin. [The kidlet, on the other hand, is one tough nut to crack. Girlfriend is stingy with the smiles. But we still love her!]

I know I posted this photo a while ago, but I've yet to use it for iheartfaces. It's one of my favorite shots I've taken of the kiddo.


It's from the day I took the kids to the park the weekend where it snowed 3" Friday night to Saturday morning and then melted and was 45 degrees by Sunday. Spring in Iowa, what else can you expect?

The light was great, I managed to do a good job on the exposure and even got some catchlights in his eyes (and, as I just noticed as I was editing the photo, a reflection of me taking the photo. Whoops!).

Man, I love my kids. Even if we're going through a not-listening stage with the kiddo and the kidlet is prone to random tantrums. They're my delight.

Check out all the other great smile photos at iheartfaces. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April ... Sunshine!

It was absolutely gorgeous outside today - sunny, 80 degrees with just a slight breeze. Almost more like June than April. But, hey, I'm not going to complain! Unfortunately, the kidlet is stuck at home with a respiratory infection. Poor baby.

I don't know. Crusty, boogery face aside, does this look like the face of a kid who is suffering?
I didn't think so. This is her doing the "grumpy" face. She's such a silly thing.

We did get on a nice walk today, though, while I was home with her. And I got to take some lovely photos of our tulips!

We have brilliant yellow and red ones. This is what happens when you rototill the soil around your house before you know what the previous owners had planted. You get tulips all over the place.

Some on the south side of our house, some on the east side of our house

Some in the corner, by the irises

Some by the clematis

and even some that are sneaking their way into the front yard.

We are also taking advantage of our neighbors magnolia tree.
This isn't quite as easy to photograph, but it sure smelled good trying!

Our peonies are growing gangbusters and I see the leaves of the lily of the valley poking up on the north side of the house. I love spring!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Flowers!

With the warmer-than-average temperatures for a few days last week and the days around 60 degrees this week, some spring flowers have begun to bloom!

It's just a refreshing reminder, especially after the brutal winter we had this year, that, yes, it will be warm and things will grow again.

I took a few pics at the ILs over Easter weekend.

Pink hyacinth (I think)

Lovely bright daffodils.

The tulips, day lilies, peonies, iris and clematis around our house have all started to grow by leaps and bounds. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a few tulips bloomed over the weekend. Our neighbor's magnolia tree is also full of buds, and those are always delightful (and smell heavenly) in bloom.

And while I took the kidlet out on a walk after work, I noticed some dandelions. I think I could do without those, at least in our yard.

I love spring!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Joyful Eastertide

The kiddos' daycare was closed on Good Friday, as was my work, so we had a wonderful long weekend.

That weekend was also half taken up with traveling hither and yon to each set of grandparents. It was a wonderful weekend, though, and it's always lovely to see family.

The kiddos had a great Easter. They got lots of fun stuff in their Easter baskets (coincidently, the Easter Bunny knows *exactly* what kind of candy mommy (me) likes best because I am the one who ends up eating most of it).

There was a fun flower headband

Which also turned into the kiddo playing "Statue of Liverty".

But I think the Easter egg hunt was the most well-received activity.
I see one!

And some more!

Running to find the next one.

Easter egg hunts are Serious Business.

He found quite a few!

Cracking them open to check out all the loot (more candy that I'm sure I'll end up eating. Goodbye smaller size pants. It was nice to know you...).

The kidlet was still a little young to comprehend the whole hunting for Easter eggs deal, but she made her own fun. Too bad the tractor isn't green! ;)