Literary obsession

Actually, it's an old obsession but lately, it has gotten much, much worse. When the kids go to bed, I spend valuable sleep time scrolling eBay for must-haves. I hit the big church yard sales hoping to find paper treasure. I spend hours shifting shelves and bins at local thrift stores.

Of course I didn't came home empty handed — from Monday's thrift store visit, I brought home 11 books for $5. Three for Will, two for Joseph, three to put up in the closet for rainy days and three for eBay. Because I need to fund my growing vintage book collection. Right now, I'm trying only to buy books I like so that if they don't sell I won't mind so much putting them on the shelves. Being on eBay daily is dangerous though ... I'm in danger of buying more than I sell.

There are hundreds of vintage books out there. I can't rescue them all but I do gravitate towards certain subjects. I love ABC books, 1950s illustrations, nursery rhymes collections, hardcover "Let's Read and Find Out" books from the '60s and '70s. For awhile I was buying any bunny book I could, inspired by Joseph's bunny friends. Now I've leaning towards farm books if only to have something to read besides Joseph's favorite "Big Red Barn."

My latest bedtime reading? A book about children's books. 
I might seriously need an intervention!


What I see

Our neighbors have started rebuilding. I actually find the hum of saws and hammers quite comforting as the sounds drift into windows open wide to Spring. Must have been all the time I spent in my uncle's shop as a kid.


First graduation

First day of school EVER, Fall 2007  

We celebrated Will's graduation from preschool on Sunday. Yes, they wore caps and gowns. And they were the cutest!

Sykes, JoJo, Tristan, Jacques and Will kept Ms. Agya on her toes.
(Not pictured: Ava and Michael)

One last picture on the steps!


Random Thoughts No. 17

You can now find me on Pinterest. Yes, I caved! I didn't want to join because I knew I would like it and waste even more time on the computer. As Will has been saying lately about his favorite things, "I don't like it, I love it!" It's like bookmarking but much, much cooler.

This video is worth your time ...

Two years ago this week, the hops were freed. It was a long fight, but one can now buy draft beer to-go in Alabama and better-tasting high gravity beers at that. While my beer-lovin' husband brings home beer all the time, recently he brought home treat for me ... Sprecher Root Beer. I'm not a root beer connoisseur but it was tasty! Now I want to try more of their gourmet sodas. And it got me thinking a lot about root beer. There is a recipe for homemade root beer in Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook — which I know someone got permission from GP to share on their site and I was going to link to it but can't find it and I've looked for two days GIVING UP! But in my fruitless search I did find these gems ...

Boozy root beer
Paula Deen's Root Beer Float Cake

I would love to have a couple of these railroad plates. Talk about making dinner fun!

School is almost out for summer here but that means summer reading programs will start up soon. We're big fans of what our libraries have planned! Check your local library for details. Nationally, Barnes and Noble has a summer reading program too — Kids earn a FREE book by reading eight books.

Our exciting weekend plans? Will's graduating from preschool this Sunday. CAPS and GOWNS oh my! 


What I see

One look and my eye starts twitching.


Those terrible threes

Recently, a friend was voicing frustration over her soon-to-be three-year-old. I could relate very well. William did not have terrible twos, but good Lord, did I need some intervention when he turned three. All of a sudden, the whining kicked into high gear. I'm lucky we didn't have a lot of full-body-on-the-floor tantrums (though Joseph is going to make up for that, don't worry) but we did have ... I'm drawing a blank. I think I've blocked it out of my memories to preserve my sanity.

Being a first-time parent, I turned to friends, family and books — lots of books.

Here are my favorites:

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers by Tracy Hogg with Melinda Blau
I didn't read the first book, "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer," but wished I had after reading Hogg's book on toddlers. Luckily, the toddlers edition covers a lot of the basics from first book. And picks up at the 18 month age so you can get early benefits from reading it.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.
Again, I didn't read "The Happiest Baby on the Block" first. But I found this book to be helpful. I didn't do everything it recommends but that's what you should do with any book — figure out what works for you and your family.

Liberated Parents, Liberated Children: Your Guide to a Happier Family 
by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
I'm not a total hippie, granola momma ... okay, I'm borderline some days ... but this feel good book from the 70s has brought peace to my home. It helped me react better to Will and learn how to communicate with him that respects both of us. As soon as I finish reading it, I start again because I really want the message to sink in.

The Girlfriends' Guide to Toddlers by Vicki Iovine
Iovine might be the coolest playmate ever ... four kids after posing she still looks good and she's soooo funny. I recommend that every mom-to-be start with the "The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy" and continue from there because Iovine covers the first year, toddlers and more honestly and with wit. Now she's taking us into the teenage years.

1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.
To be honest, I have not read this book. But I do have it to read and I've heard wonderful things about it. I already count with Will (That's one, two ... I'm coming mom) and it works! Not sure if it's going to work with Joseph though so I better get to reading.

These recommendations* are just from my own experiences. Did I leave off a book you love? Please share.

*FYI, if you follow the link to Amazon and buy the book, I might get 10 cents. If you live close to me, just borrow my copies.


Recipe for orzo lovers

Chris has a real love for orzo salads. When I spied the recipe for Orzo Stuffing with Celery, Cranberries and Pecans on the back of the celery's plastic bag, I figured it was worth a try. Especially since Ants on a Log did not pass the Will snack test. I had to do something with all that celery (I was happy he did at least try the celery).

Orzo Stuffing with Celery, Cranberries and Pecans

1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta, cooked in chicken broth, drained
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup sliced, toasted pecan or almonds (I used almonds)
3 tbsp. sliced fresh basil
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

First cook the orzo then move on to their instructions ...

1. Melt butter with olive oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, cook four minutes or until onions are translucent and golden brown. Add celery; cook four more minutes.

2. Combine orzo, celery mixture, cranberries, pecans or almonds, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in medium bowl; toss gently to combine. 

First reaction was that it needed something so I added a good helping of feta cheese. Not much that feta can't make better. Chris liked it. The recipe makes a huge bowl so I share the results with the neighbors and got thumbs up from them too. Served cold, the consensus was that the orzo stuffing was "refreshing." I'm happy to have a new recipe to take to potlucks. I hope you enjoy it too.

Here's something else you should try: Noodlehead's Thai Noodles. Anna shared the recipe on the Southern Institute for Domestic Arts and Crafts for Jenny's Meals Kids Love series. Sadly my kids didn't love it as much as Chris and I. Chris asked that the recipe be put into rotation. Now that is high praise!


Joseph turns 2!

Joseph turned two on Sunday. Two?! How did a whole year fly by? 

He wasted no time finding his present. Now he's old enough to know what presents are and what to do with that wrapping paper. Rip it!

"Choo-choo" mouth.

We invited the neighbors over to grill for an easy Mother's Day dinner and cake. And we'll do it again next weekend for his bunny party with friends and family.

I love this age. I loved it with Will and I'm getting a kick out of Joseph now. Every day he grows and learns something new. Seeing the world through a little kid's eyes is one of my joys as a mother. While Will didn't have terrible twos (more like terrible threes and frustrating fours), I think Joseph is going to be a little more difficult to handle. We certainly need to work on the "sharing" concept. 

It's fun to see how different Joseph is from Will. Will likes company; Joseph can entertain himself. Will loved rocking to sleep; Joseph puts himself to sleep. While they are two different people, Joseph sure does want to do everything (EVERYTHING!) brother does. If brother falls down and needs a kiss on a scrap, Joseph is right behind him wanting a kiss. 

Joseph can ride just as fast as Will on the big scooter. Has a great vocabulary for his age. Is already throwing a football like a quarterback. Loves playing outside and blowing bubbles. Gives big, wet raspberries for kisses. Is awesome like his brother. 

There is only one problem with Joseph ... he is growing too fast!


My newest hand-held game

Remember these?! Vary similar to a n-puzzle or 15 puzzle, this confounding gem is a map of the lower 48. Chris said he had one as a kid but this is the first map I can remember seeing. It recently came home with me from the downtown vintage bookstore for $1. I'm carrying it in my purse to pull out while I'm waiting at doctor's offices, etc. Yeah, I'm old-school like that.


My Happy Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there! We just got back from Cracker Barrel where I ate a wonderful breakfast with my boys. The rest of the day we're just going to chill around the house. Maybe I'll get to take a nap! 

First I want to show off my presents. 

Will made me this beautiful tote bag at school. 
I love anything with their little handprints!

Joseph brought me a blue flower. So sweet. 

I got in on the gift giving too. I made "momma bird" necklaces for my dear neighbors. It truly takes a village and I'm glad to have
 some wonderful ladies in my tribe. 

Now they get to share some of my nest obsession!

(FYI, I make up my bird nest pendants as I go along but there are some great tutorials out there and a couple of how-to videos on YouTube.) 


Don't forget Mom

Hello, Good Gravy!

Mom — that great gal who changed our diapers and wiped dirt off our faces with her spit — we sure do love her. And this Sunday especially is the day to tell her. Here's a few ideas for you ...

Cupcake Toppers ... Diddles and Dumplings (Yes, I'm digging the bird design.)

Paper Button Embellishments ... Creature Comforts 
"Home Is Where Your Mom Is" print ... Holiday Snob

Mother's Day Gift Tags ... Hello, Good Gravy!

Mother's Day Coupon Book ... Penny Candy Studios

Vase of flowers pop-up card ... Delia Creates

How About Orange has a mini-roundup with a "Quiet Please" door hanger, photo cards and one very cute squirrely card. Check it out.


Will's invitation ... last year

I really want to show you details of Will's recent 5th birthday party. BUT, I intended a long time ago to show you last year's party details so it's about time I do that ...

These are the invitations I made. Will's birthday was near Easter so we decided to have an egg hunt in 2010. The decorated egg lifts out of the truck with the who, what, when, where details. Some trucks I left plain for contrast; some Will decorated. Basically, there is a pocket for the egg to slide into and then I covered the back with another piece of card stock to hide the pocket. 

AFTER I made these invites, I found a free-to-print Mother's Day card on the Web featuring a bird nest with eggs to lift out. I would love to share it with you. But for the life of me, I can't find it now. (I hate losing things. So frustrated!!!) 

Here's the cake I decorated to match the invitation. It's hard to see but that's a sugar cookie in the truck's bed with a 4 on it. I was pleased with how everything turned out. And Will had a great day with his friends.