More words on the wall

Recently my friend Amy* mentioned in a Facebook post she was looking at book wreaths on Etsy. Then another friend commented she would like one too. Knowing they aren't too hard to make (here's mine), I told them to pick a design, pick a night and pick up a bottle of wine. I would bring all the supplies. We got together last Monday at Amy's and had a good time talking and ripping books apart. I think the finished products look great. I think my friends like them too. Carla Jean has already posted about her wreath. And she has better pictures!**

Now what can we get together and make next?

*Okay this is were the internet and FB are cool. Amy and I have only been friends on FB. I don't know how I started reading her blog but it's hilarious. So the night we got together to craft was the first time we had ever met in person. Awkward? No, it's like I've known this cool chick forever. Carla Jean and I at least had a history being former co-workers. Weird fact from the night: We all arrived in Birmingham the same year. 

**Seriously, I keep cleaning my phone but I'm blaming sticky little boy hands for the fuzzy quality. I'm the momma, I can do that. 


Pictures! Cool pictures!

Oh, I've been waiting for a cool family photo shoot. One to make everyone go "how awesome" and "love it." Because thanks to the internet, I know everyone out there is having fun photo shoots but me. Just google "cool family photo ideas" and come back in a couple of hours. But now, thanks to a friend and some graffiti, I've got photos that make me grin every time I look at them. These are just a sample of the awesomeness. (I shouldn't have to say it, but these are copyrighted.)

Here's the background on the background: I've driven past this long-abandoned, graffiti-decorated submerged railroad bed near downtown for years and every time I pass I think it would make an awesome background for photographs. Over the years there has been talk of renovating the area known as the First Avenue Cut into a nice little walking trail. Then I saw they were actually moving forward with the work to connect Sloss Furnaces with Railroad Park. Great for the city but crap, I knew I better move fast before they paint over the awesome. 

So I called my friend Kristina O'Quinn because she's just crazy enough to scheme with me and I knew she wouldn't bat an eyelash at graffiti. Now, Kristina is what you would call an amateur photographer — 90 percent of the time she's got a camera with her to document what's going on in the city around her. I've seen the beautiful pictures she's taken of her kids. She's doing it for kicks. When I asked her to take the photos, I expected we'd go down, take a few shots and that would be that. I kind of forgot who I was dealing with. Kristina scouted the location, sketched ideas, helped me decided what to wear. My friend didn't show up, a professional photographer did. I'll certainly recommend her to anyone who asks. And I should mention, my kids didn't make it easy for her but she handled them. 

I look forward to the new walking trail. It would be nice if the planners kept the graffiti -- it's not your "typical" graffiti of initials and nicknames but lots of inspirational sayings like the above "Don't Worry." I may have to go down again soon and document more of the site before it's gone. I suggest you do the same. Take a Kristina with you too.*

*Does this sound like an ad? It's not. It's just me being totally impressed by my friend's skills. However, she'd be happy to set up a photo shoot with you. I'll introduce you. 


Halloween 2013

What's that you say? Halloween was two weeks ago? It ain't over until I document it. Which means Halloween 2012 is still going strong. I sure thought I had posted pictures. There is at least one photo of Will.

Halloween this year was ... interesting. The four-year-old took full control of his costume. While Will always picks his costume, Nana or Mommy are the ones that make it appear. Not so with Joseph. He had an idea and told me what he needed to be an American Striped Fox.

You may ask, what is an American Striped Fox? It's a fox with stripes. It eats wild chicken, wild pigs, wild cows, pretty much anything wild. It can come in several color combinations — red and black, orange and black, orange and yellow and black. They are friends with bunnies and kittens. If you want to know anything at all about American Striped Foxes, just ask Joseph. 

No, it's not a real animal. See Joseph got a stuffed tiger for his birthday back in May. Striper immediately joined Baby Bunny and Joseph on all their adventures. About a month ago, Joseph declared Striper to be an American Striped Fox. (And no, he had not seen "What Does the Fox Say?"). Forget the Batman PJs already picked out, Joseph was going to be an American Striped Fox too. So basically, Joseph dressed up as his favorite stuffed friend. Sweet, I know.

Blurry but American Striped Foxes are very hard
to photograph in the wild! Good view of the tail.

But Halloween was coming fast. How could we pull this off? I told Joseph I would be happy to make his mask (I'm thinking felt, thread and a couple of nights in front of the TV) but Joseph ran to his room bringing out the mask he decorated at Art at Avondale Park the week before. I got red sweatpants and a turtleneck at the big consignment sale. Joseph helped paint stripes of yellow, orange and black. The tail — oh, I love the tail — was sewn in five seconds by a willing friend who knows her way around a sewing machine. It is a red T-shirt stuffed with polyfill. She sewed the tail to another strip of T-shirt so it was easy to tie around Joseph's waist. He decided not to paint it. Again, he knew what he wanted. 

Joseph asked for a costume for Striper  — 5 seconds
before trick-or-treating!

Will's costume was a little easier. Nana got him some skeleton PJs (PJs are the best for costumes —you're already dressed for bed!). But to make it a little more his style, Will wanted to be a Minecraft skeleton. Not familiar with the computer game? Just ask any little boy ages 8-12 within 30 feet of you (and probably their dads too) and they can tell you all about it. (If you are curious, Will only plays the creative mode, no mindless destroying of things/animals is allowed, and a majority of the time Will is playing next to a parent with a watchful eye. We like Mindcraft for the building aspect. Dad and son are working on an elaborate town — it even has an art museum.)

I got the bow printout here but made the grayscale pattern for the
head myself using InDesign when I couldn't find a ready-made one.

Like Halloweens past, we hit the school Harvest Festival the day before and then on actual Halloween night we walked our street with our neighbor pals and then headed two streets over to walk a few more streets with a longtime friend that has a street as nice as ours. Meaning the neighbors know the kids are coming and have goodie bags or full-sized candy bars waiting. Both boys got plenty of candy! The night ends back on our street at Mavis and Shea's annual Harvest party complete with apple bobbing and hot funnel cakes. After inhaling a bunch of sugar and maybe two bites of apple, the boys go to bed and then mommy does the importing job of "sorting" the candy. One of the best nights of the year!

Trick-or-treaters on our street always know to stop at Mr. Ed's house.
He's got the full-size candy bars!

This mini Stig and Mindcraft skeleton have been
trick-or-treating together since 2006.  

The candy is not even all gone and Joseph is already thinking ahead to next Halloween ... 

He's going as a Beetle Slug!*

*I'm told they wear yellow pants and like to use their amour 
to defend themselves from big brother attacks.


Well, did you?

I really do remember how many times my mom asked if I washed my hands when I was little. Because it was a lot of times. Heck, she still asks me every now and then! And now, I sure do grab my little guys' hands to see how wet they are and if they smell like soap. 

The sticker labels of the Wal-mart brand hand soaps come off very easily. I thought about getting a friend with a vinyl machine to make the letters for me but then I thought, what can't I do with a Sharpie?! A few minutes later, voila! Less than $2 for custom mommy nagging. And, it's refillable. 

Now these directions make me laugh every time: "Use ... to wash hands as you would use any liquid hand soap." What if I don't know how to use any liquid hand soap?!!!! Seriously, what is the point of these directions?


Goodbye box

Do you remember this box? It came into the living room in January after a neighbor took delivery of some large furniture. After eight months it was starting to fall down and wasn't played with as much. It was time for it to go. Several times I told the boys the box was going to go and there were small protests or I would think in my head, it's time, and then come in the room to find Joseph playing in it. For it was Joseph's box — he claimed it and didn't really want to share with brother. So if Will played with it, he was usually doing so with Joseph and not on his own. Will did try to sleep in it overnight a couple of times. Attempts that were quickly abandoned because hey, that floor is hard!

It was a jail, a helicopter, a hospital, a snuggle spot — it stretched the imagination! Which is why I let it "clutter" the living room for so long. Our house is not big and the box made it even smaller. After seeing how much fun the boys had with it, I think it was me who was having a tough time letting it go.  Because when they came home one day in September to a much larger-looking living room, they paused for a second and moved on.

The box was moved to the backyard where it lasted for a few more days. Then moved to the curb for recycling. But the memories will remain hopefully for the boys but definitely for me ... I'm going to go now before I get too weepy about watching their childhood pass, that it's going too fast. 

Goodbye box.

Final days -- the paper taped on front told
a story at one time. Inside it had become
 a storage spot for more boxes and stuffed
animals while stuff accumulated on top. 

Snuggle time with Baby Bunny.

Friends loved the box too. 

Cooking and a battle? Yeah, I think that's what's going on in this picture.


File under why not? Candy corn pancakes

Everyone is talking about apples. No really — everyone. Julia's Bookbag, Design Mom, SouleMama to name a few. So much so that I could't take it any longer and made praline apple bread yesterday. I subbed cream cheese for the sour cream which was okay but not life changing so not planning on doing that again (picture and recipe if you follow the link. I promise it is delicious and even more so if you have the right ingredients on hand). I thought about taking a new picture of the apple bread (mostly because I forgot I already had) but too late now because it's gone. 

But I did take a picture of the candy corn pancakes I made last weekend. When Joseph was three, he woke up everyday asking for candy. EVERY DAY. I am not kidding. It was infuriating because dude, in what world do you think you will get candy for breakfast? You're lucky you get your Lucky Charms. (Which, those days are numbered. Tried of him only eating the marshmallows. Come on, that leaves hardly any for me!) 

He's stopped asking every morning for candy but man, last weekend he was really, really wanting the candy corn sitting on the counter next to the chocolate chips waiting their turn to melt into yummy pancakes. So I thought, let's make a candy corn pancake. That should satisfy the demanding tyrant at my elbow. HA, yeah right. Joseph was not going to try it. But I did. And surprisingly, it was not bad. The candy melts just enough that it tastes like the syrup is in the pancake instead of drizzled on top. 

Here's what I did — First, I did not mix the candy corn into the pancake batter. I laid out of few candy pieces on the griddle and then spooned batter on top. I know, easy. So easy that I'm sure I am not the first person to make these. 

Would I make them again? Actually, the answer is yes. A nice treat for Halloween morning or just any fall morning. What do you think? Would you try them?


Boys are in school — what now?

There's a new level of chaos in the morning routine around here. Instead of one boy to get ready, there are two. Joseph has joined Will at St. Rose, moving from his 3-day-a-week half-day preschool to a full school schedule. We expected tears in the morning but he walks in ready to start the day. It's not all smooth sailing but he's doing all right. We miss his old school and would still be there but the opportunity to have both boys in the same school was too good a decision for the whole family.

When I tell friends that both boys are in school full time this fall, the first comment is how great for Joseph. The second is, what are you going to do with all that time to yourself?!

I'll be here more. Well, that's the idea at least. But I started writing this post almost a month ago. Several weeks were the boys have been out of the house and still not much writing from me. It's not that I don't want to write and share what I see and do. I just need to schedule the time, write down my ideas, make a posting schedule. You know, do it already!

Exercise. I put on some pounds after last year's job loss. And I enjoy Christmas treats. Drink too many Cokes. I know less in + exercise works and that's the goal. Both boys did not like the babysitting room at the gym (one of the main reasons we had joined!) so no excuse now — I can go while they are at school. Guess how many times I've gone? Twice. Ugh! Must go more!

Clean house/clutter out! One reason I haven't been writing or going to the gym is I have plenty to do in the house. Laundry, dishes, ironing, mopping -- it all falls on me. And I'm not the greatest house cleaner -- I would much rather play with the boys than swish the toilet. So if I get it done while they are gone, I'll have more time for them in the afternoon. It may not always work out, but it's a good plan. Competing with the cleaning is the clutter. We have now lived here eight years and it's time to look around and see if the stuff we have accumulated really does work for us and our space. Maybe say goodbye to toys we've outgrown? And books that we want to read but haven't touched in more than 10 years? Less stuff in our small house would make everyone happier and make the house easier to clean. Now to talk the rest of the household into this ...

Get back in touch with friends. I've got some great friends scattered around the country. Facebook is good for keeping in touch but I want more. More phone calls and e-mails, maybe even letters. I want folks to know I am thinking about them and that I care.

Volunteer more. We've got some great events in town. But the hours they needed help didn't always fit around the schedule of taking care of little ones. Now I can help while the boys are at school. And I did just that recently for Artwalk, helping to set up tents and move stuff around during the day for the event that night. It was fun. I got a cool T-shirt. Now I want to do more.

Especially at school. I'm very involved at the boys' school. Yearbook editor and room mom. I love the community of parents and staff/faculty that is fostered by our principal. Happy to spend more time there. But I'm behind on my yearbook deadlines. Again, do it already!

More time with me. Also competing for attention is all the books and magazines I haven't read for the last seven years, the TV shows I'm several seasons behind, crafts that I would love to make and even sell for profit. But I'm still on the back burner until I get the house straightened out.

Here's the REALITY — by the time I get going after my caffeine, run one or two errands (so much faster without kids but still time killers) and do one or two basic home chores I look at the clock and it's time to pick up the kids. Where did the day go? It can only get worse because I am starting to look for a job. Maybe something seasonal as stores gear up for Christmas or maybe something real and related to my profession.

Overall, you can see I've got to start writing some major to-do lists and get better at managing my time. Right after I beat level 125 in Candy Crush ... well, maybe deleting games off my phone just went to the top of today's to-do list.


It's 2nd grade for Will


May he be greeted warmly by old friends while being nice to the new kids. May the new teacher see the good and sweetness inside all the kids as they take over her classroom (13 boys in that class! 13 boys!) May he learn and grow and eat that lunch that I packed with care frantically this morning with no doubt that 90 percent will end up in the trash. May he be awesome!

And 4K for Joseph


May the teachers appreciate your creativity and imagination while dealing with a rather wide stubborn streak. May you make new friends as you run in and out of the tunnels on the playground. May you say please and thank you and act like you were not raised by wolves. Look out St. Rose, Joseph has arrived.


Root for the home team

Rain threatened to shorten the game but quickly passed.

Joseph's favorite part was the popcorn. Game, what game? I've got popcorn.

Our Birmingham Barons are back home. Since 1987, they had been playing in the suburb of Hoover but deals were made, hands were shaken and the boys are back in town for the 2013 season. The new field is nice, very nice. And much closer to home. Close enough to hear the end-of-game fireworks but unfortunately, can't see them for the trees. 

Our neighbor across the street organized a night for all of us to go (What, you don't go places with your neighbors? Your neighbors are just not as fun as mine! More evidence here and here). Chris was ill and had to miss the game. Joseph was only interested in running up and down the stands. Since I was with my village, I was able to leave Will there to actually enjoy the game when it was clear Joseph was ready to leave. 

The best part of the whole entire night? Golf carts! Parking is hard to come by close to the field so some smartie came up with the idea to roam the surrounding streets on golf carts picking folks up for tips. Help me get my two kids to the game as they whine pick me up? Yes please! Deliver me right to my door in the dark? Yes indeed. That was worth a big tip.

Go Barons! Welcome home!


God of Fire

Summer holds a few traditions for us. One of those is we go to Memphis. Then Memphis, in the form of Nana, comes to us. After all these years of visits, some how Nana (who I do claim as my mother) has never been up close and personal with our naked statue. That would be Vulcan. As landmarks go, you really can't go wrong with a naked statue.

We took Mom to visit Vulcan yesterday. At 56-feet tall, he is the world's largest cast-iron statue. Our god of fire was commissioned for the 1904 World's Fair to show off the magic happening then in Birmingham (the magic being we were really good at digging money, i.e. iron ore, out of the ground). Now after a long and colorful life, he towers over the city atop Red Mountain as we go about our daily errands and is what welcomes us home after any journey away. He moons the folks that have moved into the suburbs or as we call it, live "over the mountain."

A regional map at the base of Vulcan shows were the various iron ore producers were once located. Joseph's right foot is actually pointing to just about where Chris and I lived when we first moved to town. We had a lovely third floor loft with an awesome roof-top deck. Very pre-kids! 


How does it grow? It don't

Every year I think, this is the year. The year we till part of the backyard and plant a ton of stuff. And once again, all I've managed is a couple of containers. Basil and peppers ... And they're not even looking that good. No blooms, little growth. At least our tomato plants produced enough for a sandwich last summer. Maybe next year ...

Now this is a garden! Amanda of SouleMama and her family are slowly creating a homestead in Maine with sheep, chickens and maybe one day a cow. The kind of life that sounds so romantic to me. We love to eat the okra grown in Mississippi each summer at the grandparents. And my grandfather — he had a half acre full of corn, green beans, peas, strawberries and more. It was full of chemicals too because those were the pre-organic days. No telling what I ate with the veggies but they tasted so good. Just thinking about those days in garden with him makes me happy. Maybe next year ...


School's out for summer!

Splash pad at Birmingham Zoo

Once again, it's time to make a list for summertime fun. We've got eight weeks until school bells ring again. Eight long weeks filled with whining unless we keep our days somewhat structured. I'd much rather a year-round school schedule at this point, c'est la vie.

So far we've been to the lake for Memorial Day, the pool for swim lessons, enjoyed a week of Vacation Bible School (it was Will's 5th but Joseph's first time!) and read the first two Harry Potter books.

Things that got to be done are 1. Will needs to learn how to tie his shoes 2. and ride his bike. 3. Get both boys to the dentist 4. and the hairdresser 5. Mr. Shoes needs to visit the vet for a little snip. 6. summer reading book reports for the soon-to-be 2nd grader 7. de-clutter house and backyard.

We'll head to Memphis to 7. visit my family. Other possible road trips I'd love to make — 8. Anniston for its Museum of Natural History, 9. Atlanta for friends and IKEA and Fernbank and Aquarium, 10. Huntsville for family and U.S. Space and Rocket Center. And the beach, I really want 11. to go to the beach! It's been too long.

Closer to home we've enjoyed one Birmingham Barons game but 12. I'd like go to at least one more 13. make ice cream and popsicles 14. Splash in Turkey Creek 15. bowling 16. skating rink 17. big cookout with the neighbors 18. free movies all over the place 19. summer reading programs at the local libraries 20. pool, pool and more pool!

Inspired by Melissa at Julia's Bookbag, I asked the boys what they would like to do this summer. Joseph saw the splash pad picture and wants to go back to the zoo for the water and a train ride. He was just telling daddy tonight that if you ride the train, you can see all the animals. Will's list was a little bit longer. He wants to ...

eat at Chick-fil-A
play legos
summer reading camp at local library
go fishing
have a sleepover
stay up all night
throw a party
visit Splash Adventure water park

I think we can make some of that happen. What about you, how's summer looking?


A word or two on the wall

I've been waiting to make a book page wreath for quite some time. One night I just got too it — two hours of television later, I was finished and quite happy with the results now hanging above the mantle. I won't go into details — Google "book page wreath" and you'll find many tutorials and many examples. I skimmed through several tutorials and then just winged it. This size (roughly 26 by 20 inches) took two books; both were vintage and rescued from the trash. I wouldn't do this to a new book! The pages are tri-folded and hot glued to a cardboard backing. The cardboard works here but I want to experiment with other materials (plywood? canvas? ideas?). 

I would have shown you the whole mantle but it is such a dumping ground for mail, lego projects, toy pieces found under the sofa waiting to be put in their proper homes. Do you have a picture-perfect mantle? Or take a quick swipe before company arrives like me?


Random Thoughts No. 24

Oh, hi there. Still here. Well, not here on the blog but here in general. No one does a good job of explaining how adding a child, and then another to your life really can make it busier. Consider laundry — just going from a couple to a family of four doubles the amount of laundry (or more depending on how much spit up and potty accidents a child has). Each kid has their own schedule of school and events, plus the never-ending cycle of laundry and errands, plus mom or dad or both have jobs, and hey maybe mom or dad or both want to have a little bit of life beyond the kids. Life gets busy.

That's a long way of saying this blog here is not at the top of my to-do list. But I'll still check in from time to time with pictures of the boys or crafts. Now that school is out, I'll have a little more time to squeeze in some writing. Today you get some random thoughts ...

How cool is that AWESOME image there?! My mom had a small embossing label maker — it was so so fun to play with. Would love to find it. Mom and I don't throw things away so one of us has it somewhere. While I look, you can go to this site and generate your own images just like the real thing.

This nearby "yard show" is on my to-do-eventually lists! Unfortunately, it's been on my to-do-eventually list since we got to Birmingham and that's 10 years ago. One of these days ...

Like chocolate? Like pie? I made Jessie's Hot Fudge Pie and it was fight-over-the-crumbs good! No really, go make this pie then come back and thank me.

Okay, that's all I got for you.


No more diapers for this ducky (or rabbit)

Of course Baby Bunny learned to use 
the potty too!

Boy, potty training took FOREVAH with Joseph. I thought it would be easier with Joseph since he had big brother to mimic. I was wrong. When Joseph showed the right amount of interest, we got out the little potty. It was a novelty for a few days, then he just stopped. Not interested and very, very resistant. I was asking the pediatrician when should we start to worry that something else medically was going on and the magic number was Age 4. So about two months before his fourth birthday, Joseph got with it and stopped screaming every time I merely suggested he might need a potty break. We're still having more accidents that I would care for (especially at his age) but he has passed the "long car trip" test and the "shopping in a store" test. He might even this summer pass the "get of the water and not pee in the pool" test. We all joke the baby pool is warmer for a reason. (No, no it's just very shallow and therefore less water to warm up in the sun. At least, that's what I tell myself!)


Hey batter, batter, batter

Awhile back on Facebook, I asked for opinions on little league. Specifically, would it warp Will for life if he didn't play at least one season of baseball? Because he was asking to play. Asking to play despite never picking up a bat or playing catch in the back yard. Asking to play despite already having a sport he loves— soccer. Asking to play despite the bank account not being as flush as it once was and playing sports ain't cheap. The consensus was let him play if he wants but don't force it. Heck no we weren't going to force it, but we did sign him up since he was interested. LESSON NUMBER ONE LEARNED: Trying new things is good. 

I'd love to say he was a natural on the field, amazing at batting, begging us to play ball all day long. Those things are not true and when I tried to encourage extra practice in the backyard I was met with resistance. When asked why he wanted to play in the first place, his reply was "I imagined I would be better than I am." LESSON NUMBER TWO LEARNED: I'm not good at everything and to get better it takes practice, practice, practice. 

It was obvious from the start that all the kids on the team besides Will had played at least one or two years. I swear one kid was probably born with a glove on his hand. Will on the other hand had to be reminded to pay attention to the ball and not the outfield weeds. His coaches have been great, taking extra time on batting and ball skills. Everyone plays so he wasn't left in the dugout. You could see improvement with each game. The last game of the regular season, Will got the game ball. After many strike outs in previous games, Will made contact each time at bat, bringing in several runs. His teammates were cheering, the parents were cheering. I was happy to see the teammate that didn't always want to throw the ball with Will in practice come out of the dugout to say "way to go." Will walked away that night saying "I helped my team win." LESSON NUMBER THREE LEARNED: Teams win and lose together. Yes, there are stars, but it's a team effort and everyone contributes

Tonight, the Southside 7/8 Tigers will play the Storm in the first round of playoffs. We're the No. 1 seed because we only lost one game all season. Seriously, just one game. Crazy! The games are hard for me to watch -- I worry the ball is going to come to Will and he'll make the game-losing mistake. I wish he had a little implant in his ear that I could whisper loudly "Get up, for goodness' sake! Stop playing in the dirt!" Instead, I tried hard to let the coaches do all the yelling about paying attention. I pray he hits at least one ball per game because Will, and really all the kids, gets so frustrated when he strikes out. They are still young enough to wear their feelings on their sleeves. LESSON NUMBER FOUR LEARNED (by momma): Will has his own life lessons to learn that are out of my hands — lessons about actions having consequences and how paying attention is important. 

After the season is over, I hope William will want to play catch in the back yard now and then. We'll catch a Birmingham Barons game or two this summer and he'll at least know what is happening on the field. Most important, he'll take these life lessons into whatever becomes his next adventure. 

He's asking to play football. 

Update 5-23-13 Will's team won the championship! Go Tigers! 


No presents, just your presence

We're gearing up for two birthday parties, back to back. Will's birthday is in April followed by Joseph's in May. The invites for Will's party are in the mail.

I was going to put "no presents please" on the invite but my inner dialogue sounds more like ...

No presents please. No really, he's got plenty. Just by being born in America, he's got more in his book bag than some children will have in a lifetime. And we don't need more stuff. Have you seen my house? It is crammed full of stuff crap. And hey, you just might not have the money to spare this month on a present for a classmate. We understand that. Keep your money. But hey, if you've known Will all his life, then yeah you might want to get him a present just because you think he's a great kid. I get that. I think your kid is great too and I want to get him/her a present. And just like that, we're all back to buying presents.

In the end, I forgot to put "no presents please" and in asking the question — do I go back and fix that? — Chris' reply was "everyone loves presents."

Yes, yes we do.

Now I'm off to make two dozen superhero capes as party favors ...


Multiplying rabbits!

You know all the old jokes about rabbits and their reproductive habits? 
Here's one: How are bunnies like calculators? They can multiply real fast! 

Well, bunnies tend to multiply around my house too. I'm not just talking about the dust bunnies either. At the moment, Joseph has nine stuffed bunnies in play — there's Baby Bunny, Momma Bunny, Grey Bunny, Snow Bunny, New Bunny ('cause he was new duh), Blue Bunny, another Blue Bunny and several waiting for names. (Let's not even count the secondary puppy dogs, dinos and bears that cover his bed.)

Time to make more bunnies for Easter!

So clever! So easy to make! Oh Happy Day

From my favorite folks at Mr. Printables. They also
 have a giant egg for coloring and an egg hunt
 board game. Hope you asked the Easter Bunny
 to bring you more ink.

Clever Martha folks. Pompom noses (and tails) always please me.

These cuties are going to multiply all over my house. Besides
using it as a garland, I love the idea from Printable Paper Craft by Happy Thought
to attach them to sticks and decorating the yard.

I couldn't find an original source for this picture.
What a cute prop for Easter pictures with the kids.



This picture? The real reason for this post. 

My boys love doughnuts (okay, so does momma!). Nothing like the "Hot Now" sign at Krispy Kreme to lure us in. We even have a Krispy Kreme in town where you can watch the donuts being made. For the easily entertained like me, it's some fun! But sometimes I don't feel like driving (or paying) for the yummy goodness. And darn if the boys aren't sick of hearing "we can make those ourselves" when they ask for something at the store. So I rooted around the Web and found a fairly easy sounding recipe for a cake-like donut. We made them and ate them all. YUM!

Then trouble hit. I went to make the donuts again and the Web site with the recipe was gone. Vanished.  Wouldn't load. Now, there are hundreds thousands gazillons of recipes on the Web so finding another one wouldn't be difficult. BUT, the recipe I found first had this amazing chocolate glaze that tasted just like Krispy Kreme chocolate glaze!!!! Eat-it-straight-from-the-jar-with-a spoon good!!! I was not happy about losing the recipe for the glaze. A couple of week later I found that I HAD written down the recipe on a scrap piece of paper (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I'm screwed if Pinterest disappears!). REJOICE! So I'm sharing it here so I don't lose it again. And because I know you need some chocolate glaze in your life too.

Easy peasy cakey donuts

2 cups Bisquick*
2 T sugar
1 t vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup water
a little bit of cinnamon
a tiny bit of nutmeg

*According to Wikipedia, one cup of Bisquick can be substituted with one cup of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil or melted butter.

I didn't write down any of the instructions so basically mix everything together, roll out on a well-floured surface and cut out doughnuts/holes. Heat oil and fry (here's where a deep fryer would come in handy but I don't have one). They will cook very quickly so keep an eye on them and flip! Let cool on paper towels. Pop them in a bag with cinnamon and sugar to coat or cover them with chocolate glaze. 

Chocolate glaze 

2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
3 T butter
1 cup powered sugar
3/4 t vanilla
2-3 T hot water

I didn't have the squares on hand so I used 3 small handfuls of chocolate chips and it turned out fine. Melt the chocolate and butter on the stove. Remove from heat, add remaining ingredients. Try not to eat the entire pan in one sitting. 



Random Thoughts Valentine's Edition

I made Chris some whiskey candies. Got the recipe at Olives for Dinner but left out the hot sauce. It was my first time making a hard candy and it was fairly easy. Washing the dishes coated with hard candy shell was the hardest part. Not sure if the candies have enough flavor. I think I will experiment with other liqueurs. I spy with my little eye a bottle of Grand Marnier hiding in the bar. 

Paste magazine has a list of the Top Anti-Valentine's Day films. Most I haven't seen. I think I would add "Mona Lisa Smile" since Kristin Dunst's character gets exactly what she deserves while getting exactly what she thinks she wanted, her Mrs. Degree (but no happy-ever after). However, if I was going to sit down to watch a soppy, sweet type of love story today, my choice might be "Stranger than Fiction" or the BBC miniseries "North & South" or "A Room with a View" or "Pride and Prejudice" (Colin Firth preferred but Matthew Macfadyen's not bad). So basically, any English period drama. 

Isn't this sweet? I got the idea in my head and took the boys to my friend Julia's paint it yourself pottery place (Actually name is Do*It*Yourself Crafts and it's awesome. You should go.). On one side is a thumbprint heart with handwriting by Will. On the other side, Joseph added some paint in blues and greens making the pendant reversible. Just a happy for this momma who loves anything they create (even when I'm the one making them create it). 

This morning, Rice Krispies treats and lego jedi light saber valentines were successfully delivered to Will's classroom. Followed by heart-shaped sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting and you're dino-mite valentines for Joseph's classroom. (Oh yes, I'm THAT mom complete with the stereotype of frosting the cookies minutes before leaving for school). So now I have a messy kitchen and lots of cream cheese frosting to keep me company as I clean up. If you are still looking for Valentine's Day ideas, check out my Pinterest board. Lots of ideas and free printables. 

Seems lots of folks have a love-hate relationship with Valentine's Day. My wish for everyone is that we all find some joy today in ourselves and in those around us we love. Hugs to all y'all.


I don't run

I went to the gym yesterday. I never go to the gym in January ... or most other months for that matter. Like most folks, I contempt making one or two lifestyle changes come New Year's Day. Then I wait patiently for all the other suckers to lose steam and clear out. I don't have time to put my name on a waiting list for a treadmill. 

For some unknown ghastly reason, I've decided that running is what I should be doing. A thin girlfriend told me long ago that it's the fastest way to lose weight. My friends that run are gorgeous. I don't want to be a gorgeous skinny-minny but fitting into my clothes would be nice. I've never been one to diet or really care about my weight. I'm not chasing any fads — I believe in the simple "eat less, move more" motto. My only problem is I've been eating more and moving less more and more. Carrying two babies certainly didn't help — the body is never quite the same after all the rearranging. 

I, maybe surprisingly, was on the track team in high school. It was a small school. You know how you do one or two years in junior varsity and then move to the varsity team. Yeah, not me. I never broke a 12-minute mile. Thankfully, I had soccer to get my varsity jacket. 

So I went to the gym yesterday. Been wanting to try out the Run 5k app. Seems pretty cool using jog/walk intervals to build endurance. After eight weeks, I should be able to run 30 minutes non-stop. I liked the idea of taking it slow. 

I lasted on Day One about five minutes. My legs said oh hells no. 

And after the gym? Chinese food and a donut. 


A cup of cheer

What? You say it's February 2013? I'm still catching up on my December posts ... 
Besides, are you only thirsty in December? I think not.

I'm big on tradition, especially Christmas traditions. So every year I make Ruby Wine Punch. Sometimes for an event but usually just for me. Two Christmas-es ago I made some, bragged about it on Facebook and had two friends ask for the recipe. I thought, hey I'll just post about it and they can get the recipe off my site. So I did it the very next day. Here it is, finally. 

I haven't shared many recipes on Pretty Little Nest because I haven't felt enough ownership to claim the right to publish. But this recipe for Ruby Wine Punch has been in the family now for three generations. My thanks to one Mrs. Morrisson for sharing it with my grandmother.

Ruby Wine Punch

3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
6 inches of cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
dash of salt
2 cups burgandy wine
1 quart cranapple juice

Combine water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil stirring constantly. Reduce to simmer 10 minutes until clear like syrup. Chill (wine and the cranapple juice should be chilling in the fridge as well). Combine with wine and cranapple juice. Serve. If serving in a punch bowl, go ahead and get fancy with an ice ring of cranapple juice. It is rather sweet so you can add ginger ale/sprite or cut back on the sugar. 

Notes from me: I made 2012's version with a cheap dry red and cran-pomegranate juice. Not the same so sticking to the recipe next time. Try to strain the punch while pouring into a cup. No need to ruin Christmas by choking on a clove. AND if you put the punch back into the cranapple juice container CLEARLY MARK the container before someone pours the "juice" into a cup for your four-year-old. Just saying. 

Do you like those wonderfully vintage Christmas glasses? Score at the thrift store! Even better, got six of them marked way less than they should have been. Double score!