Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kitchen Part I

Last weekend I started a project that will be taking many more weekends to complete: I started painting the kitchen!  Most rooms in our house needed to be repainted when we moved in and we are s-l-o-w-l-y making progress (Ellen has a little bit to do with the painting speed.)  I have been wanting to paint over the red in the kitchen from Day 1, so I was excited to get started.

Here's the kitchen right after we moved in...

 And here is it just after I primed over the red the other day.  It already feels so much bigger and brighter.  

The new khaki paint should warm it up a bit and will look nice and crisp against the white cabinets.  I'm just hoping to have it finished sometime this year...stay tuned. 

(PS - Ellen is actually sitting in the high chair in the bottom two pictures...she's a wee little thing!) 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad's birthday.  I was due on his birthday but arrived 2 weeks late.  

As an adult my dad would always send his mother flowers on his birthday.
My dad has given me many intangible gifts over the years...  

Every year on Father's Day my dad writes each of my siblings and me a letter.  I also have letters from him from other important times in my life.  I have all of these letters saved and enjoy reading them from time to time.  

My dad has always stressed spending quality time with myself and my siblings.  Summers growing up always included trips to get ice cream together.  When I was younger (in about 2nd grade) he would take us to volunteer at a local soup kitchen on Saturday mornings.  Of course we were always treated to breakfast on such an outing.  

Now my dad also takes time for my own children.  This past Christmas Clare and Jude were treated to lunch at McDonald's with Grandpa and then went to get him new shoes at his cousin's shoe store.  They are still talking about their special trip with Grandpa (and of course about the turtle and talking bird at the shoe store!).   

I inherited my dad's list making abilities...which is why this blog is possible...of which he is it's #1 fan!

Happy Birthday, Dad!  I love you!  Hope you have a great day!    

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Banana Muffins (Low Calorie)

In an endless effort to loose the last 10 pounds I have been hanging onto after the arrival of Baby #3 (but not being able to give up carbs!) I like to make this banana muffin recipe.  (They don't contain any butter or oil.)

Banana Muffins

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed bananas (I use 2 bananas)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tin or use paper liners.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl beat together bananas, sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Stir in the applesauce.

Combine the two mixtures. 

Pour batter into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.  

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.
(If using paper liners, the muffins stick to the paper until they have set awhile.) 

Makes 12 muffins...and are enjoyed by all.  

Monday, March 28, 2011

Shiny Pennies

Even though the first day of spring was over a week ago, it snowed here over weekend and we are looking at more snow arriving tomorrow.  It doesn't look like we will be spending much time outside this week!

This is a favorite winter-time activity that usually keeps my kids busy for awhile...and searching the house for pennies...and then filling their piggy banks.      

Mix 4 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.  Drop pennies in the solution.  If the pennies do not immediately become clean, use a wooden spoon to stir for a minute.  Polish the clean pennies with a dry cloth.  If you want, you can also use a drop of vegetable oil to really make them shine!

 Clare's piggy bank that she made in Pre-K.  (Aren't preschool teachers so creative??)  
I love the eyelashes!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Disney on Ice

Last weekend was definitely more exciting than this weekend is shaping up to be.  
Last Saturday we took the kids to Disney on Ice and they loved it.  
And I made sure we took lots of pictures to show them we actually did some fun things when they were little!

Ellen was a good girl during the 2 hours we were there.  
(When I clean out my purse and find the ticket stubs, I'll have to put one in her baby book.)  

We caved and got the older two cotton candy with Flounder hats.  

The cotton candy was a HUGE hit!

And other people are still wearing their hats.

Did I mention the cotton candy was delicious???

She wanted that hat!!

 A good time was had by all!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What comes out in the wash...

It's been a bit of a mad house around here.  Ellen is working on her first two teeth and has a cold with a cough.  She also had the beginning of an ear infection at her 6 month check-up yesterday.  I have a cold with a cough.  Jude just got over his cold with a cough.  Between a fussy baby during the day and lack of sleep at night, I feel like I've been playing catch-up this week on everything.  Anyway, with all of this going on I am off my normal laundry routine.  (That's always a sign to me that I have lost all control!!)  When I went to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer yesterday, I discovered this:

A diaper somehow went through the wash.  Was it a dirty diaper when it went in?  It was definitely exploding with cleanliness when it came out.  Not sure how it made it in the washer to begin with.  Might have been my absent-mindedness, might have had something to do with the 5 and under crowd.

The world may never know.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Whole Wheat Waffles

Ryan received a waffle maker for his birthday.  (Thanks, Jeanna!)  I have been looking for a "healthy" waffle recipe and came across this recipe from  I pulled a "Breakfast for Dinner" last Friday and they were really good.  We will definitely be making them again soon...maybe for breakfast next time!

"Eating Well Waffles"

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, (optional)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Stir whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

**To make "sour milk" add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to each 1 cup of milk.

Whisk buttermilk, egg yolk, oil, and vanilla (if using) in a separate bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened.

Beat the 3 egg whites in a grease-free mixing bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Add sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy.

Whisk on-quarter of the beaten egg whites into the batter.  Fold in the remaining beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula.  

Preheat waffle iron.  Brush the surface lightly with oil.  Fill the waffle iron two-thirds full of batter.  Cook until the waffles are crisp and golden, about 5 - 6 minutes.   

Repeat with the remaining bater, brushing the surface with oil before cooking each batch.  


Friday, March 18, 2011


We have been treated this week to a visit by the kids' great-grandma, my Gramma Ivory.  

At bedtime prayers the other night Jude led our litany of patron saints.  His version:

"St. Jude - Pray for us
St. Clare - Pray for us
St. Gramma Ivory - Pray for us"   

We enjoyed our visit very much!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

40 Bags

It seems like I know a lot of people taking part in "40 bad in 40 days" for Lent.  (Getting rid of 40 bags of stuff by donating, throwing away, etc. during the 40 days of Lent.)  Now that Ellen is on a predictable nap schedule I feel like I can get more done and am joining the "40 bags" bandwagon this year.  I am mostly wanting to organize and purge closets and storage spaces.  Some things were unpacked and tossed into temporary spaces when we moved 18 months ago and are not exactly functioning in their current home.  So I am trying to get some order in those places.  (And in the process have found extension cords stored in about five different spots...)

Some spaces, like my laundry room, were starting to look messy and bother my left-brained self:

A quick and inexpensive trip to Walmart is now making me feel better about this space:  

I also organized the hall linen closet the other day and knew I was successful when I heard Ryan open it and say, "Where's the...oh, I see it.  Never mind."

I am loving my bags piling up for Goodwill...and the ones that have already made it to the curb!  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

Yesterday's Birthday Boy doesn't care for many cakes and sweets.  (Or even chocolate...but that's a whole different post.)  His mother made him his ultimate favorite, pumpkin pie, over the weekend so I thought we would try something different for his actual birthday.

Strawberry Ice Cream Cake

8 graham crackers 
4 tablespoons of butter
1 1/2 gallon of ice cream (soften it by leaving out for 30 minutes) 
1 tub of cool whip

Place graham crackers in food processor and blend.  Melt butter and mix together with crushed graham crackers.  Pat into 9x13 pan.  (I used a 9x9 pan and did half of the recipe.)  Place softened ice cream on top of graham cracker crust.  Pour entire tub of cool whip on top.  Place in freezer for 4 - 6 hours (overnight is even better).

For Ryan's cake I used strawberry ice cream and added sliced strawberries on top before serving.  (Children wanted to add red sugar sprinkles on top, too.)  
I have also made this as a chocolate version using oreos for the crust and sprinkled on top with any complimentary ice cream flavor.   

Very easy and very yummy.     


Monday, March 14, 2011


Happy 30th Birthday Dear Ryan!  

We had such a fun time celebrating on Saturday...and keeping the surprise from you has entertained me the past couple of weeks!   

Wishing you a very happy birthday!  
We love you and are so thankful for the gift you are to all of us! 

(I know three people who think you are pretty great!):

I just hope that you don't come home tonight with white hair, wrinkles, and a stature of 5 feet, because then Clare will think you are really old.

We love you!

(A big thank you to Sue and John for all of their help with your party!)