Monday, March 30, 2009


This week at school Boo learned about rain, so it seemed like a good time to do this marshmallow rainbow craft.

It was a hit. I drew the rainbow and Boo chose where the colors would go.

She glued most of the marshmallows on before she realized that she could eat them too. It was a great sorting activity and we ended up doing a lot of counting too. We also talked about 'soft', and how things feel different. After she glued on the marshmallows, I wrote "Boo" and "Rainbow" on the paper and she learned which word was which.

My cousin did this same craft, only she used Fruit Loops.

As a side note, I was on the phone this morning when Boo finished breakfast, so she took herself upstairs and got dressed. She came downstairs proud as could be...khaki skirt, pink sweatshirt, red socks pulled up to the knees, and white sandals.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Ty

Boo has been obsessed with birthdays and cupcakes lately. It started in February when we went to Kroger's and she noticed the cupcakes. I told her she could have cupcakes for her birthday. Silly me, her birthday is six months away. So we have a looong time to talk about it. Because she doesn't forget things anymore.

Then her preschool class celebrated a couple of birthdays, and it's been all down hill from there. Every night in her prayers she says "Bless cupcakes". And every day we talk how she will have cupcakes for her birthday, and about whose birthdays have to come before hers.

This weekend we knocked one of the list when we went to Becca and Jeff''s to celebrate Ty's first birthday. Becca made a cute puppy cake. Can you imagine? Cake in the shape of a puppy. Boo was in heaven. And Becca had dark chocolate sauce for the ice cream, so I was in heaven too.
Ty thoroughly enjoyed his cake and frosting. I couldn't help but remember Boo's first birthday. I made her a chocolate cake, and was really looking forward to a great picture like this one. I gave her a small piece, she poked it with a finger, picked at it with two fingers, licked it off her finger, and then threw it on the floor. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHOSE KID IS SHE? Well, now I know that she does love chocolate and cake, she was just waiting until she could eat it without making a mess.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bike, check. Helmet...half check.

Boo took a few days to warm up to the bike she got for Christmas. Then she loved it. During the winter we put the training wheels up on J's weights so she had a stationary bike.

Now that it's finally warm enough to be outside, we got her a helmet so she could ride outside. She was SO excited when Daddy brought it home ("Daddy brought me a present!") but wouldn't let it near her head. Hmmm. After a week of having it hanging around...and several marshmallow bribes later...we finally got it on her head. Still working up to the chin strap.

But we made it outside and down the sidewalk. She needs a lot more strength in her little legs to get very far, but she's made a good start.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Academic Earth

J found a great website called Academic Earth. I think it's even better than the MIT site. It's a collection of video lectures on a variety of subjects...from Origins of the Financial Mess to Introduction to Starcraft and Competitive Gaming. The lectures are given by professors from Berkley, Stanford, Princeton, MIT, Harvard and Yale. You can view a list of Top Rated Courses, or Top Rated Lectures. The lectures are also given a 'grade', so you don't have to waste your time listening to a 'B' lecture when you could listen to an 'A+' one.

So go learn for free!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009


(photo from AB in 5)

If you love pita (or hummus), you've gotta give this a try. I made this last week with homemade falafels and hummus, and it was fabulous. I used the basic artisan bread recipe:

Mix together 1 1/2 TB yeast, 1 1/2 TB salt, 3 cups lukewarm water, 6 1/2 cups flour (I used 2 cups wheat flour and the rest white, and it turned out great).

Allow to rise for 2 hours (lidded, but not airtight bowl), then throw it in the fridge.

When you are ready to make your pita, follow these directions - there are pictures and everything!

I will admit that I was completely skeptical about this pita recipe. I've looked into making pita before, and it takes ALL DAY. But now I'm a believer - the dough rolls out fast, the pita puffs up like magic, and tastes almost as good as the pita from Taste of Jerusalem in Bloomington.

If you don't like falafels or hummus, they make great pita pockets for a turkey sandwich or for a scrambled egg and bacon.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

100% Whole Wheat Bread

I finally got my Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes from the library, and I am in love. It must be returned in a week, and I think I'm ready to commit to buying my own copy. I've tried the whole wheat bread, light wheat artisan bread, pita, sticky caramel pecan rolls, and challah, and have been very pleased with the ease and great taste of all of the recipes. Next on my list: English muffins, soft pretzels, chocolate filled beignets, and cinnamon raisin bread.

My first couple of tries at the whole wheat bread did not go well - I had flat and burned bread. I was cooking it too long and not filling the bread pan enough. But I think I have it figured out now, and it is by far the best whole wheat bread recipe I've tried. Although there is a lot of rising time involved, the hands on time is pretty minimal. And no kneading! The full recipe is supposed to make 3 loaves (but I only get 2 loaves and a couple pitas out of mine), and the dough will last up to five days in the fridge. I love being able to make just one loaf at a time. So check it out:

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 1/2 TB yeast
1 TB plus 1 tsp salt (I use kosher)
1/2 cup honey
5 TB neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
6 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
12 tsp gluten (this is my own addition, I have only used it in one batch so far, but that batch turned out the best..I use a little less flour when I put in the gluten - which you can buy in the baking aisle at the grocery store for about $1.50)

1. Mix the yeast, salt, oil, and honey with the milk and water.

2. Mix in the dry ingredients, without kneading. I do it by hand (still haven't decided between Bosch and KitchenAid), but you can use a mixer with a dough hook. The dough will be really wet, but it's supposed to be.)

3. Cover with a tight fitting lid, but not an air tight lid. (I don't have a lid for a big bowl that is not air tight, so I just cover it with Glad Press and Seal, and that seems to do the trick). Allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2-3 hours. (I've never seen my dough collapse, I just leave it for 3 hours).

4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, or refrigerate the dough in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days.

5. TO BAKE: Lightly grease a 9x4x3" nonstick loaf pan. Using wet hands (weird, I know, but the dough is so wet, you really have to have wet hands to be able to handle it) scoop out a cantaloupe-size handful of dough. Sprinkle with flour and shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating as you go. (So I'm not very good at this part - see this video to watch the authors do it. I do the best I can, and try to end up with an oval loaf shape after about 45 seconds).

6. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan, filling the pan slightly more than half full.

7. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes (if it's non-refrigerated dough, it's usually good to go after an hour and a quarter, with refrigerated dough I let it rise 2 hours plus). Flour and slash the top of the loaf (I don't do this part).

8. Place loaf on a rack near the center of the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until deeply browned and firm. (WARNING: I burned a few loaves by using this time frame. My loaves only take 25-30 minutes).

9. Remove from pans while hot, cool completely before slicing.

I read somewhere that if you grind your own wheat, grind some just prior to mixing the flour into the bread. The warmth of the freshly ground wheat will help with rising.

With my bit of leftover dough after my 2 loaves, I make a couple of pitas. The pitas are the easiest thing in the world, and they are SO GOOD. Post to come.

If you are into bread making, or bread eating, I recommend you check out this book, or at least check out the authors' website. It has a lot of tips and they post new recipes every now and then.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Going Green

We had a great St. Patrick's Day, spent the morning at the park. Holiday wardrobe provided by Grandma Hall.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Worth noting

I'm in big trouble for going 2 weeks without a post. I've got some coming. But it's worth noting that my baby counter has finally gotten out of the triple digits. And Boo is considering other names for the baby besides 'Puppy'. On the good days.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wait, wait...don't tell me!

I'm an NPR addict. I love Wednesdays because I'm in the car during the Diane Rehm Show. If I have to go to work early I can listen to Tell Me More. I have a little bit of a crush on Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace. Sometimes I get emotional when I listen to poems from The Writer's Almanac. And what a sad day it will be when Prairie Home Companion retires.

But my absolute favorite is...

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

I love Peter Sagal. I want Carl Kasell to record the message on my answering machine (but can I say how disappointed I am that his name is NOT spelled 'Castle'?). If you've never heard it, check out the show archives. I loved the Carrie Fisher show, and the Leonard Nimoy show.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cleaning out the closet

We're elbow deep in rearranging rooms and closets. Someday I will have closets that look like this. It's my Martha Stewart Dream. I've already decided that spring cleaning will be fall cleaning this year. That thought makes me happy.

So that just leaves the organizing to do. J made me go through my big Rubbermaid tub of college binders last weekend. All my notes and tests from undergrad and grad school. All neatly organized in enormous binders. I was under strict instructions to PARE DOWN. Oh, it was hard. All those years of work. I never look at those notes, certainly most undergrad notes are now outdated. There is no reason to keep them. So I was ruthless. So I thought. But the 'bare minimum' I thought I was keeping still filled up three 2" binders. Sometimes I think I need hoarder therapy. Certainly J thinks so.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Boo and I seem to be on the road to recovery from the winter blahs. It's slightly less cold, some days the temperatures even creep up into the 20's or (gasp) the 30's. The two of us have even had some nice outings lately. Most of our winter shopping trips ended in disaster, with Boo either crumpled in a heap on the store floor, or trying to throw herself and the groceries out of the cart. For awhile I made J do the shopping (no one was happy with that arrangement), and then I started shopping while she was in school.

But we had a nice trip last week when we shopped for some new bathroom rugs (I know, you wish you had my exciting life). Then we went to Bath and Body Works, and we smelled all the lotions and picked out some new chapstick. A few days ago we took another girly the fabric store. Oh, how she loves bolts of fabric. She stood guard over the bolts of fabric in the cart, and made sure I didn't take anything out once I had put it in. She picked a few bolts out herself, and was partial to anything pink. She was downright chatty with the lady at the cutting counter - told her all about the blanket for the new baby, about watching Sesame Street with Cannon, what color her new room would be, showed her the fabric that matched her jacket, and showed off her two braids. She is ENORMOUSLY proud of her braids.

I'm also working on recovering my etsy shop, now that it looks like the cpsia law will at least take a little longer to go into effect...and now that I've found some cute baby girl fabric. There is nothing up now, but I hope to have a few things up by the end of the week.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Welcome March!

We took a trip to Target on Saturday and couldn't resist the spring clothes anymore, so Boo got a new outfit.
It's all of 29 degrees today, she should be wearing something more weather appropriate. But it makes us all happy to think that spring will be here in another month, so spring clothes it is. Tomorrow we'll go back to the lined jeans and sweatshirts.
PS - I'm so proud of her curls! Gel and foam curlers, baby.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Conversation between Boo and J

J: Who do you like better, Mommy or Daddy?
Boo: Ummm, Mommy.

J: Who is stronger, Mommy or Daddy?
Boo: Ummm, Mommy.

J: Who is cuter, Mommy or Daddy?
Boo: Ummm, BOO!

Gymnastics class

On Saturday, Boo's preschool had an activity at a local gymnastics club. It was for all the preschool classes, but most of the kids there were quite a bit older than Boo. She hesitantly went out to the floor mat with all the kids to 'warm up'. Then they blared some hip-hop and she burst into tears and ran to J in hysterics. Once they finished warming up and turned off the music, she calmed down, but wasn't into doing the group thing. The teachers were very flexible and let her jump on the trampoline while the rest of the group did the first activity. That was all she needed - we were able to sit on the bleachers with the rest of the parents and she jumped. And jumped. And jumped. Until the group moved to the trampoline. She wasn't quite ready to join the group yet, so she ran over to where she could see us, gave us a big smile and wave, and then ran back. She selected the part of the activity that looked the most fun...climbing up a sloped ladder, jumping off a cushion, and crawling through a tunnel. One of the teachers was so sweet and helped her get up the ladder and showed her how to get through the tunnel.
Then she ran around to the beginning of the ladder. crouched down and waited for him to come back and help her get up the ladder.
That sweet man must have helped her up the ladder 20 time before J finally went out and told Boo that she could do it herself.
The activity was 90 minutes, and for once in her life, Boo was TIRED.