Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Feeding Time at the RADZoo


We have a family membership to the RADZoo and get here once or twice a month. It's a good place to learn more about all kinds of reptiles & amphibians. They also have some birds, a tarantula, and a scorpion (which kinda eeeks me out!). They have over 100 animals there. It's also a nice big space in one big building, so the kids can go look at what they want and I can see them, and they can stretch their legs. Here are some pictures I took of some of the animals there today!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Iced Candles

My daughter and I had fun making these. We made three in total, two for her teachers and one for a crafty-gift swap. All you have to do is paint glue on the candle and sprinkle on epsom salt. Let it dry. Tie on a sweet ribbon. And tada! It looks like ice on a candle.

I also made three containers of lavendar-vanilla bath salts using epsom salt, sea salt, oils, & food coloring. I have already given those to friends as Christmas gifts (forgot to take a picture) and they loved how they smelled.

Homemade Ornaments

These are the homemade ornaments that they kids made this year to give as gifts. My daughter really enjoyed making her handprint santas. I was only able to get one handprint santa out of my son, but did get him to fingerpaint on some tree. I laminated the ornaments since these were on paper and we want people to be able to keep them and use them for future Christmases.

Stitching Projects

So, I joined a Stitch & Bitch group a couple months ago. And while the daytime meetings I usually can't make, I have been able to get to a couple evening get togethers.

Last winter I bought myself a knitting board and did about 6 inches on the above scarf in this wonderful alpaca yarn (so soft!) and never touched it again. But this was a good way to get this project finished and start some more.

The knitting board automatically double knits everything (well, I haven't learned other stitching methods with it yet, I need to watch the DVD, this was what was explained in the paper handout on how to make a scarf) and it took quite a long time and got boring. So, I kept putting it down.

But then I thought I would pick up some Knifty Knitter hoop looms and make some hats. The above hat I made for a friend for Christmas and am in the process of making an identical one for another friend. The hats featured below are all gifts too. The small infant purple hat was given to my neighbor's new baby. The other three hats are Christmas presents for my husband, daughter & son.
I have also bought a different little tool, which I made a scarf & mitten for my daughter's baby dolly for Christmas presents for her. I still need to take a picture of those (and wrapped).

I do want to buy the set of flat looms to make scarves & blankets, etc.

Redneck Party

One of my friends had a Redneck Christmas Party. It was an interesting theme, needless to say. She had some clever decorations & food creations.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dinner and the Ballet

My friend Melanie won this contest from Girlfriends magazine for a free night out with dinner and the ballet with 3 girlfriends. And since I had encouraged her (& all my friends on FB) to enter & if they won - to take me! Well, she won & she did. She invited the other Baby Mamas (it's the name I gave to the group of moms I met in my son's ECFE class & did some summer playgroups with) and two of them were able to come with.

So, it was Melanie, Bonnie, Kristen & I out in the town. The prize included dinner at the Roasted Pear (we just had to pay for drinks & a tip) and tickets to watch the Twin Cities Ballet perform The Nutcracker at the Burnsville Center for the Performing Arts.

We had a really good time. It was my first time seeing a ballet performed. I actually saw the Twin Cities Ballet perform as part of a MN Orchestra concert, but that was only a handful of dancers for a few select songs. And of course I have watched my daughter in her dance classes and recitals.

How Would You Like 50 Free Cards from Shutterfly?

It's simple, just click here and fill out the form and wait and see if you get chose to receive 50 free photocards from Shutterfly. Of course, you will need to review their product and post a blog about it.

I am really hoping I get picked. We just had professional photos taken of our family since my daughter is now 4 1/2 and my son just turned 1. It's amazing how fast kids change.

I was planning on sending out pictures with our Christmas cards and this would be a wonderful opportunity to review Shutterfly and show off my beautiful family.

Let me know if you get chosen. I would love to see your card too!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Turkey Finger Puppets

This evening, while I watched a movie I made these finger puppets for the kids for Thanksgiving. I do realize I have made the second holiday themed finger puppet for them (made them bunny finger puppets for Easter) and at some point my daughter will probably ask me to make finger puppets for other holidays. I think I will skip on finger puppets for Christmas this year since I have other gifts I want to make the kids, maybe do every third holiday or something.

Anyways, the idea & pattern for thee puppets came from the website, Frog Prince Paperie. I had considered making a different turkey puppet, but I really liked the hand stitching on this one. Although, the other one would have been much quicker to create. Let me know if you make the other one. I do like the Groundhog finger puppet on that website, maybe that will be the next one.

Goodbye Molly

Today was a sad day for our family as we said goodbye to our dog Molly. She was 12 years old and had been with our family for 9 years. She had been suffering from an enlarged heart and it was becoming more & more difficult for her to do basic things. We had blood work done and xrays and they couldn't find anything causing her heart to enlarge other than she was getting old and stuff like that happens. She had a slight infection in her lungs and we bought crazy expensive antibiotics to help with that (which is why the vet thought she had this hack). Well, the hack never went away. She was put on heart medicine, and she continued to get worse and worse. By the last week, she would have to lay down completely on the floor after walking up the stairs from the basement of from walking from her kennel to the house. She was not the dog she wanted to be and it was very hard to see her that way and getting worse every day.

Molly was a dog that would jump up and kiss your mouth (if you let her). She loved to chase squirrels and bunnies in the yard. She loved to wander off and explore the neighborhood (which is why I had to train her to come to a whistle so that I didn't sound like a mad woman yelling for my dog to come home.) She played with our cat Lucy and was afraid of our cat Larry. She let our son crawl all over her and he would laugh when she licked his hand. She loved to play her fetch-chase game. It took us years to get her to just play fetch. She used to love to have us throw a ball/stick for her to fetch and then she would come just close enough & when you would grab for it she would run away and she wanted you to chase her. She used to take branches and peel off the bark. She liked to lay with her back legs extended straight out the back. She loved to gallop in the snow and eat it. She hated rain or any type of running water (we suspect that water was used as punishment when she was young.) She had the stinkiest farts, EVER! She was a happy dog and always looked like she was smiling. We always joked that she was retarded (just as a figure of speech, I know I am not being PC), but she was a good dog.

Our family will miss her, but now she is in doggy heaven and can do all those things she wanted to do these last months but couldn't.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Our Spookiest, Coolest House (Again!)

It's still light out when I took the pictures, but you can at least see the red light in the background and the fog machine working. Too bad you can't see the pumpkin light & flickering window light & strobe light. Andy also added lights to focus on the sign.

People told Andy that we had the spookiest porch in town (exactly!) and there were many kids who were too scared to come up the porch and made the adults with them come up with. He also had spooky music playing too, plus he was sitting in the corner wearing his costume (see below!) I can't wait until we can decorate our porch again next year, most of these decorations can be reused, so next year we can just buy a few more things.

Halloween 2010

This was the most fun Halloween I have had in a long time. The top collage is from Saturday night where I went out with 5 other moms (and 1 dad - not pictured) and did a bar hopping for Halloween. We had so much fun dancing & laughing and checking out everyone's costumes. We definitely have to do this every year.

Friday night, my friend Caitlin & I made a practice run to a bar downtown. Well, actually, we were supposed to go to a Halloween theatre variety show and we decided it would be fun to dress up, but due to some last minute scheduling difficulties she couldn't get a sitter & her husband had to work late, so we couldn't make it in time. But why waste a fun costume (she was Peggy Bundy & I was a disgruntled goth bridemaid - shredded a dress I wore 14 years ago) so we went to check out a bar (neither of us ever goes down town to the bars, so we just picked one) and it they had karaoke. I was super excited because I used to love to go sing karaoke (not any good, but I still have fun!) and I have not gone out for that since before I was pregnant with my daughter. So, it's been a while. I sang "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks and "This Love' by Maroon 5 by myself and together we sang "Just a Friend" by Biz Markie and "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. I finally got her to sing her own song "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga. It was her first time singing karaoke and she had a good time & asked to go again.

My husband is not the dress up type, but our daughter was pestering him to dress up and he was staying home to pass out candy on our spooky porch (the fog machine is going in these pics). So he agreed to wear exactly what he was wearing & add a mask. I thought it was pretty creepy, even with how simple it was.

Here are the kids in one of their halloween costumes. Each of them had two. My daughter's costumes were a witch and a fairy. My sons costumes were a pumpkin and a mouse.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our Spookiest, Coolest House

Well, we had planned to do a lot of our own decorations and much of these are (5 pumpkin/ghost leaf bags, ghosts in the trees, flying ghost on porch, skeleton scarecrow, plastic hangings of witch & warewolf, small ghosts hanging from porch, glow in the dark ghost by the door, scarecrow wreath, glow in the dark stars on ceiling of porch, glow in the dark skeleton, pumpkin & carved pumpkins, & homemade window decorations, but then we got picked by SheSpeaks to be a Snickers Coolest House.

This is such an awesome sampling opportunity. They sent me bags & bags & bags of candy. 2/3 of the bags are of the new Snickers bar, Snickers Squared and the other 1/3 is of regular Snickers. There are 300 pieces of candy in all. So, these are being passed out on Halloween and at our Halloween parties this week.

They also sent us a bag of spider webs, a big banner to hang up, some window clings, some "warning" tape, a strobe light and a fog machine. During the day you can't see the strobe light and it was too windy to have the fog machine going. But come Halloween when I add our own colored light to the porch, turned on the fog machine & strobe light, we are going to have the spookiest porch in the whole town.

My daughter has been so pumped about all of this. She loved decorating the porch and then to decorate it even more was a treat. I can't wait to see her face when the lights & fog are added.

Also, I have to add that, you can only get this new Snicker candy bar, Snickers Squared, and the houses chosen for the sampling program. They won't be available to buy until this winter.

So, if you live in my area, stop on by and check out our spooky porch and come try out the new Snickers Squared. Or maybe you are lucky enough to be at one of our Halloween parties and will get one there.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Hair Color

Last night my colorist friend, Caitlin, played kitchen beautician with me and made me very blond & very straight. The blond is permanent, the straightness is not (just blow out & flat iron.) Normally she just does color at her job & someone else does the styling, but she really wanted to style my hair too since her daughter (one of DD's little friends) never lets her do her hair, she never gets to play with hair after she has colored it. And then we took it a step further & she did my makeup too so that the before & after pictures (taken with phone) would have the maximum impact. My before picture looks kinda straight, but that is because I had just taken it out of a ponytail (which flatten the top half against my head.

My daughter likes that I have blond hair like her now. Although, she's been begging me to straighten her hair this morning.

My poor son didn't recognize me this morning when I went to get him out of his crib. I had to say a few things before he would put his arms out to me to pick him up. He just kept giving this weird look until he knew it was me.

I like the blond. Although, with such a dramatic change to blond AND straight it almost seems like I am wearing a wig. In a couple weeks, we are going to take it one step further and make it a little sassy & add a hot pink streak. But for now, it's just blond because we have family pictures coming up and I wanted just blond for that. Now I have to decide if I want her to dye my actual hair pink or weave in an extension.

With an extension, the hair is artificial and the color will stay as long as the extension stays in, but the curl will be hard to match with mine. Plus, I have never had a weave put in, what's that feel like? Is it hard to comb by it? Does feel weird on my head? If we go with my actual hair and dye it, the color will fade but it will be my natural hair & curl & nothing extra on my head. Decisions, decisions....

The Cheese Cave

We got a sitter for the girls & took our friends out to the Cheese Cave. We really enjoy the atmosphere, food & wine there. In addition to our wine (Andy switched to beer later), we had 2 different cheese platters (each with 3 different cheeses, strawberries, dried cranberries, water crackers, candied cashews & chocolates on it), assorted olives, dried salami rolled in herbs, & rosemary crackers.

The boy didn't make the picture, but you can see his sippy cup there and no that he was there.

We had a good time there and out friend enjoyed it. We had hoped they would, because this was right up their alley in terms of food interests.

My 2nd 5K

My friend Lori came to visit with her family and we had planned to run a 5K together. I was glad I ran with her because she pushed me to finish with a pace under a 10-min mile. In fact, it was 9:47 min mile pace that we had. The course was just under 3.1, but I did factor that in with my pace time, otherwise my pace would have looked REALLY awesome to me.

Still have no desire to run anything more than a 5K race. No runner's high here. :(

I am thinking about running a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, but I am not sure how I feel about the cold. I run inside on a treadmill. So, we'll see. I might just wait to register that day if it feels ok. Although, I was talking with another mom in our playgroup about doing our own turkey trot (no t-shirts or entry fee, just a playgroup event for the moms.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

9th Wedding Anniversary Day-Out

Our actual anniversary isn't really for a few more days, but this was when we could get childcare and have some time together. My in-laws babysat all day and into the early evening and we had a fantastic time.

We started out our day getting some Caribou coffee. Yum! Then we headed to Mpls to go to the Mill City Farmer's Market & Oktoberfest (2 different things there). Oktoberfest was a special event and they had beer tasting (woohoo!), bands playing, and a beer garden and sausages for sale. Yum! First, let me say it was so much fun to listen to polka bands. Growing up I heard polka bands often since my grandpa was in one, so I have a special fondness for them. Second, that was the best kraut I have ever had. It was homemade and had the perfect level of sweetness mixed in with the sour. Yum!

It was also a great Farmer's Market. It was largely organic & sustainable local farmers there. Andy bought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Plus we bought some smoked trout (another fond memory of my great grandpa giving us smoked fish), some dill havarati, some sourdough bread, and some wonderful, wonderful chocolate sauce.

After this we went to Kramarczuk's and had some nalesnyky and varenyky (& Andy had a Russian beer). It was pretty tasty and I could only eat half my plate (well, I did eat at Oktoberfest.) They we went to their deli and bought some polish sausage, brats, homemade kraut & brat rolls to bring home.
Our next stop was the Minneapolis Institute of Arts WITHOUT KIDS. The only other time we were here was for a Family event and we had the kids and didn't get to really see much. So, we spent a little time here. Neither of us are art snobs, so we don't spend hours upon hours here. But we did spend enough time and enjoyed ourselves. When we got home and gave our daughter a poster from the museum she asked us when we could take her back again. She really enjoyed their family event (which is a monthly thing.)

Finally, making our way home, we stopped at the Cheese Cave and had some wine, cheese, crackers, nuts, chocolates & dried fruit. FANTASTIC! This is my third time going here and each time I just love it even more & more. We plan to go again next month and introduce some friends to this place. They are the retail store & restaurant for the Amablu Cheese Caves in that town, plus they sell all sorts of other cheeses.

Fall Flooding

These are pictures of our park around 3pm on Thursday, 9/23/10. The river did not crest until sometime Friday evening, but after it did it started to recede and by Saturday morning it was 10 inches lower and this evening when we drove by it looked to be at least another foot lower too.

I am not exactly sure how much rain we really got. There are reports of 8.5-11 inches of rain around our area within 24 hours. The town to the south of us was hit much harder because they are lower in elevation, plus a man-made levy broke causing more flooding.

Our home sits high enough and far enough away from the river that we were luckily not affected, but I am saddened by all the people who have lost so much because of the flooding. Lots of business in the town south of us were affected.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My First 5K

Ok, now I can give you the run down of my first 5K and the training the first 8 weeks.

Here's how it started: A friend posted on her FB status that her husband was given the opportunity to be a trainer for 5 people who have never run a 5K before. The program was going to be very similar to the Couch To 5K (C25K) program (our program was like this but 1 week shorter.) My reply to her post was, "Hmmmmm, sounds interesting. I'll have to think about it." And I was thinking about it because running a 5K was a goal of mine at the beginning of the year, but due to having a 2 month old and fears of drying up from nursing, I abandoned the goal after 3 weeks.

Well, a couple days later I get an email basically saying - ok, you're doing it, my husband will email you more details.

Later than day I get an email from her husband, Lonnie (bald guy in the photo), saying training would be three days a week, we start next week and run a 5K in 8 weeks, but that all these things were negotiable based on our availability. Then we found out we only had to meet once a week for group training and we were meeting at 7pm, the other 2 days of training were to be done on our own time & schedule (but mostly following a MWF workout schedule.) The companies sponsoring us, Metabolife & Active.com would be paying our entry fee, giving us training programs to choose from, and providing us with shirts to wear during our first 5K (see photo above to check out our shirts.) That was it, there was no obligation to the company, this is a marketing opportunity for them. We actually have a FB page as well, and there are teams like these all over the country.

So, I didn't even have time to think of an excuse of why I couldn't do this. I needed to do this. So I went with it. Turns out there was another mom, Jennifer (see picture) I was just getting to know who just had a little boy about the same time I had my son. This training was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other and support each other as moms and as training partners.

The other person in the picture with us is Mike, another training partner. His wife had started the program with us but because of an existing precondition that worsened, she didn't finish the program and did the 1-mile walk this day. There is also one more training partner, who completed his first 5K a day after us because he has college courses on Saturdays.

I think the biggest hurdle was running the first 2 miles straight. I don't think I have ever run 2 miles without walking some part EVER! I believe all of us felt similarly. But I did it! And then my friend Caitlin told me something our runner friend, Rebecca, told her when she ran her first 2 miles "You can run 20% more when you are at the race because of the adrenaline and competition." So, if I was running 2 miles already, I was almost there to being able to run 3.1.

I was very proud of myself for running my first 5K. I finished at 31:52 on VERY HILLY course that was actually about 3.2 miles rather than 3.1. It was a non-competitive, fundraising run, so the distance need to be "close enough". I was even more happy when I found out it was longer (our trainer had a GPS that tracked distance & elevation & time, etc.) So it turns out I ran a 10 minute mile. I was amazed. I only practiced a 10-minute mile ONCE for 1 mile, before this I was just over a 10.5 minute mile. So I had cut over 30 seconds off my average pace time (mostly likely due to it being race day), which is awesome! I have to wonder if I would have gone even faster if there weren't so many hills (which get very tiring.)

I did take my weight & measurements at the beginning of this too. Where I barely saw any weight loss, I did begin to notice that pants fit better. I had lost a half inch around my waist and also a quarter inch around both my chest & hips.

I did end up straining or spraining one of my ankles and need to apply RICE to that for a few days and then ease back in to running. I did walk 1.5 miles on it today and it hurt, but today was supposed to be the peak of delayed-onset muscle soreness and it will start to feel better after today. So, maybe some yoga in the meantime.

I do have plans to run another 5K in a month. Not sure if I will advance to training for a 10K. It's still hard to believe I ran a 5K and I just want to bask in that accomplishment for a while.

I do have to say, I believe the C25K training program is a very good set up and works if you are dedicated to training towards your first 5K.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Homemade No-Sew Birthday Banner

I have seen these banners on several different blogs. I always thought they were pretty cool, but worried about how time consuming it would be to cut out 13 triangles and 13 letters. It wasn't so bad. I just sat down and made this and made the most of my son's first birthday crown while I watched a movie.

I did all this free hand, no stencils. And I have to say, I think I did a pretty good job. The supplies I used was: felt, ribbons, school glue, hot glue & glue gun, and scissors.

I first cut out all the triangles, then started cutting out letters. Then it was time to glue it all together. I used white school glue to adhere the letters to the triangles and hot glue to adhere the pennants to the ribbon.

I love that it was no sew and I could do it sitting in the living room while watching a movie.

I had decided to do it in a variety of colors because then I can use it for any birthday. But I did make it for my son't first birthday. I had made several things for my daughters first birthday and wanted to make him some special things as well. So, for him I made this banner, am making a crown and a shirt. I did buy some small round cake molds so that I can make his personal birthday cake (for the photo op too).

Anyways, I figure this cost me around $3 to make. Certainly MUCH CHEAPER than buying a fabric pennant banner, probably even cheaper than buying a paper one that would get wrecked after one use.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

McIntosh State Park, Ventura, IA (Yurt)

This weekend we rented a yurt at McIntosh State Park for a couple of nights. We had a good time, even if my son didn't want to go to bed at his bedtime and then wanted to get up too early.

My in-laws joined us and had reserved the other yurt. This is the second year in a row we went camping with them. It's a nice thing to be able to do with them and the kids.

The yurts have twin bunks beds in it and a full size futon, a table & 2 chairs. And outside there are picnic tables and a fire ring. This yurt is ADA acccessible, the other one wasn't. The bathroom by the yurts is ADA accessible as well.

I would highly recommend renting a yurt there. The yurts on right by the lake and there is a fishing pier right there too. Also, there is a bathroom with showers right by the yurts. The rest of the campground is on the other side, so the bathroom is basically for the 2 yurts. There is a little hiking path right behind the yurt. And there is a nice playground there as well, and a swimming beach.
Only downside is the the yurts are near (not too near) a busier daytime road so you hear the traffic, but you can't see them through the trees. And at night the road is quiet.

Smores & roasted marshmallows are always a hit in the evening. My favorite is the NEW Caramel marshmallows with Symphony chocolate on some graham crackers. YUM!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Weekend Bonfire

What an eventful weekend so far, and it isn't event over yet. We started out with family coming in to town on Friday to stay with us. Then we went to the community center pool to swim (we promised Isabel a pool party with family for her birthday). Then Saturday we went to the Lowe's Build & Grow clinic so that my daughter could build a race car. Then it was to the nature center with the kids and my mom to go hiking, playing & have a picnic lunch while other family went to the Mall of America and daddy picked up a friend from the airport. Then it was back swimming at the community center again, grilling out for dinner and finally a bonfire. I love bonfires & roasting marshmallows.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Yummy Food

The other day I was all into making homemade foods. I decided to try making some Artisan Bread. The recipe I am using the book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day and made the basic recipe that makes 4 1-pound recipes. The cool thing is there is no kneading and the dough lasts 14 days and it only takes 5 minutes of actual work each time to make a loaf. I don't think it took much more than 30 minutes of work this first time to make the dough, so next time it might be even quicker. It turned out great and was yummy.

The bottom picture is of some pollo pinto gallo with a bunch of hot sauce on it (just the way I like it). This was a favorite dish when we have visited Costa Rica and is a typical dish there and now is a typical dish in our home. Although in Costa Rica it is usually just pinto gallo and the pollo is served on the side.

The other thing I made that I didn't take a picture of was strawberry-rhubarb pie with oatmeal crust & crumble topping. That was yummy, in fact, I think I may go help myself to some leftovers.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Making Floss Balls

This was a project I did this week. It seemed simple enough and was pretty. I used water balloons that we had at home and left them small to keep them as round as possible. On each one I used a 1/2 skein of DMC floss. To make these I poured some liquid starch in a bowl and soaked the 1/2 skein of floss in it. Then wrapped the soaked floss around the balloon. Then placed the balloons in a single layer in a bowl to dry for 24 hours. After the floss was dry we popped & removed the balloon and now we have a pretty bowl of floss balls.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bunny Finger Puppets

So, I made these for the kids for Easter and after I looked at the link that inspired me to make these, I realized I REALLY need to add tails, they look so much cuter with tails. So, these are semi-finished in this picture.