Friday, December 30, 2011

Gifts at the Circus

I have felt a week behind since Thanksgiving.

I'm not sure whether I slept through an entire week and missed it, or just zoned out and drifted through a week in a fog. Either way, all of my activities were behind schedule: selecting & purchasing gifts, getting & decorating the tree, baking treats, and wrapping gifts. Since I've been incorporating more "green" living in my life over the past 10 years, I planned some of my gifts to be consumable or to be made from re-purposed items.

The first task was baking treats. I love to bake, and the holidays give me an excuse to bake lots of treats and give them as gifts and not eat them all myself. So I spent one weekend doing a lot of baking.
These treats are yummy! From my oven to your tummy!
Starting at "noon" on the plate the treats are: Hazelnut Thumbprints, Cinnamon Almond Brittle, Triple Chocolate Peppermint Brownies, Pecan Bars, Peppermint Drops, Stripes, and Sugarplums (in the center of the plate). The bread is Bananas Foster with a Rum Glaze. Delicious!! One of my treat gift recipients dove right in to the bag of treats and started with a brownie; he proceeded to make sounds that I am sure only his wife should hear!!!! Perhaps the brownies need a new title... If you would like any of the recipes, just leave me a comment and your email :)

Anyway, the next task was an item for the Book Club Gift Exchange. The guidelines: the gift cannot cost more that $5 and should contain something made by the giver. Since the Club is a Recipe Club (we cook/bake something inspired by the book to bring to the meeting and we share the recipe), I ruled out my treats. Instead, I remembered a crafty thing I really enjoyed a few years ago: Stained Glass.

I searched my arts & crafts bins to see if I still had any of my supplies. I was pretty shocked by how much I had stashed away:

I purchased glasses from the thrift store for a total of $1.88.

I decided to do a geometric design for the glasses, using straight lines for the 2 similar glasses and circles for the different glass. I painted the lines free-hand using the black leading paint.

After allowing time for the leading to dry, I began adding color in the shapes created by the intersecting leading lines. The paint is somewhat opaque and cloudy when wet but then dries to a much more "clear" finish.

I included 3 tea lights and my gift was complete!! Since we planned a "Dirty Santa" gift exchange, I had no idea who would receive my gift. The recipient seemed very pleased and I'm hoping her reaction was legit and not just a way to cover her plan to hide them on a closet shelf once she got home.

I was so pleased with these glasses that I painted empty jars (from salad dressing) for 2 friends. They were also pleased, and a bit amazed that I painted them. Seriously, it is incredibly easy!

Now to turn my sights to 2012. I have learned to expect the unexpected (especially in my house!!), so I look forward to whatever the future may hold.

I am not one to make resolutions just because of the date on the calendar. Every day is a good day for making a change, whether to better yourself, better your community, or better the world!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pumpkins & Turkeys

Per usual, life has been a bit busy. It has been almost 2 months since I have posted! I fully intended to post about pumpkin carving and Halloween... then the calendar said it was November. So I decided to post about Thanksgiving instead... now the calendar says December. Seriously?!? Where is my "universal" remote that will allow me to pause time?

So this post will be a bit of a rewind into October and November.


I went through 4 pumpkins this year in efforts to get 2 jack-o-lanterns. No, I didn't mess them up. 

The boys brought home the first jack-o-lantern from daycare on Columbus Day. Of course, that meant that within 2 weeks, the poor thing was rotting and decaying. Bye-bye, Jack #1.

In the meantime, I had purchased another pumpkin to carve and keep Jack #1 company. My oldest, CT, wanted to be completely in charge of Jack #2... this meant it took a week for him to finish carving the darn thing. Of course, Jack #2 became rotted and decaying. Bye-bye Jack #2.

So my youngest, IG, and I purchased to more pumpkins the week before Halloween. I waited until the weekend to carve them and knocked out some quick knife-work in 10 minutes. I think Jack #3 and Jack #4 turned out very nice :)


This year was my turn to host Thanksgiving. My mother and alternate: one of us hosts Thanksgiving while the other hosts Christmas. It's not that huge of a deal: it's just the 4 of my immediate family plus my mother. The most difficult part is not making TOO MUCH food!

This was my menu:

     Brown Butter & Sage mashed potatoes
     Herb Biscuits
     Cider-Glazed Turkey
     Sausage & Apple Stuffing
     Cranberry Pineapple Sauce
     Caramelized Butternut Squash

I love to cook, and getting the opportunity to experiment with willing victims taste-testers is great.

The biscuits are missing from the picture? What? I didn't notice... okay, maybe I did. I over-baked the biscuits and they came out a little lot dry. So they were shunned from the photo. Every great chef makes mistakes. Right? Right??

So I hope to remember to photograph my next few projects. I am going to be crafty this month for my book club and for my friends. I am also going to be baking cookies and items to give as gifts. I seem to remember after I make something that I wanted to take pictures for my blog. Such as the delicious batch of applesauce I made 2 weeks ago. I love having an apple orchard 1/2 mile from my house! I want to make more applesauce to freeze so maybe I will remember to grab the camera then. We'll see.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Day in My Life

As mentioned in my post yesterday, I kept a log of my entire day today. Technically, I will log midnight to midnight; I will have to add anything that happens after 8:00 p.m. sometime tomorrow morning since I will not be on my computer from that point on tonight.

I have often wondered where my weekend goes... now I know!

In the log, my husband is "BW," my 2 year-old is "IG," and my 5 year-old is "CT."

1:10 a.m. - IG whimpered enough to wake me up, but not enough for me to check on him.

4:15 a.m. - Doyle, one of the beagles, decided this would be a great time to get sick. Thankfully BW handled the clean up!

6:32 - IG is awake, but still in his room.

6:37 - IG and CT climb into bed with us. 

6:48 - IG gets me out of bed to find the missing "balloon" (little maraca). I dispense milk and bananas to the boys, turn on Sprout in the playroom, and head back to bed.

7:11 - IG wanders back into bed with me and hangs for a bit. CT brings a granola bar for me to open, which leads IG to go fetch a granola bar for himself. I take a moment to take my med, since I have to take it on an empty stomach and not eat for an hour.

7:26 - IG wanders back into bed.

7:34 - I give up and get up, throwing on sweatpants, a t-shirt, slippers, and a hoodie.

7:40 - Time to make BREAKFAST! I make chocolate chip pancakes (a double batch from scratch!) every Sunday that we are home. I freeze one batch of pancakes for the boys to eat during the week. While the pancakes are cooking, I empty the dishwasher, do more dishes, start the dishwasher, and make my coffee. The boys eat pancakes as the batches finish cooking.

8:28 - Finally sit down to eat my pancakes and check my "tech:" email, FB, G+, etc.

8:39 - IG has somehow "injured" his eye and requires kisses; he then climbs on my lap while I continue checking the tech. IG decides it is time to go shirtless and wanders off to play.

8:58 - Both boys fetch apples to eat.

9:10 - Refine my to-do list for the day.

9:16 - That's a lot on my to-do list! And my week looks busy, too!!

9:17 - Start working on letters for work only to discover I do no have a file that I need to complete the project. I do what I can then move on down the to-do list.

9:31 - Change a diaper for IG and refill his juice. (This happens often throughout the day, but I did not write them all down)

9:33 - Clean the toilets and sinks; I switch a load of laundry while I'm in that bathroom.

9:52 - Help IG find the lost apple (found on the playroom floor) and make a "pit stop." This is not my only "pit stop" of the day, however I neglected to write down when the other's occurred.

9:55 - Change the sheets on CT's bed.

10:05 - Fold one load of laundry. (BW took care of 3 loads today... woohoo!!)

10:30 - Realize I've been completely distracted by "Pop-Up Video" on VH1.

10:38 - Unload the dishwasher (yet again), do more dishes, and clean up the kitchen.

11:30 - Check the tech.

11:40 - Work on new tech stuff for work. (I love getting new gadgets!)

12:20 - Change a diaper for IG and tuck him in for his nap.

12:30 - Return to working on the tech stuff.

1:08 - LUNCH!!! And catch up on Project Runway :)

1:36 - IG is awake from him nap (not nearly long enough!), so I pause Project Runway to make lunch for the boys. As they eat, I clean up the playroom and vacuum upstairs.

2:10 - Time to bake the weekly treat!! I bake something each weekend to put in CT's lunchbox and for all of us to enjoy. This week is Lotsa Lemon Bars.

2:30 - Practice for the upcoming recital while the bars are baking.

3:00 - Mop the kitchen floor.

3:21 - Change the sheets on my bed and fold another load of laundry while watching Project Runway. Also do some ironing and organize my outfits for the week. Yes, I am that Geek. It makes my mornings just a bit easier to manage.

4:15 - Time to make SUPPER! I love to cook, so I tried a new recipe tonight: Pork Chops with Sautéed Apples over Polenta. It was pretty yummy. It needs a bit more flavor and color, but I'm not sure what to add, yet.

5:00 - EAT!!! During supper, BW and I work with CT to create a Consequence Chart. He's been displaying some not-so-favorable behaviors lately and we want a way to keep track of his choices and reward him for the good ones.

5:30 - Shower time! Why so late? I take my showers in the evening. I love going to bed nice and clean, and it is one less this to do in the morning.

5:45 - IG gets his bath. He loves to play in the tub! I sit outside the doorway (out of the "splash zone") to supervise. Tonight, I brought my MacBook and created the chart for CT that was discussed at supper. My mom called; CT talked to her while IG finished his bath.

6:15 - CT gets his bath; IG takes his turn taking to my mom on the phone, then I finally get a turn :)

6:40 - Make my lunch for tomorrow.

6:51 - Check the to-do list: DONE!!!

7:00 - Both boys brush their teeth, then IG goes to bed.

7:09 - Sit down to start typing up this blog.

7:30 - CT goes to bed; IG is already asleep.

7:44 - And now time has caught up with me...

I feel exhausted just reading over what I did today! I can focus a bit on ME before I go to bed :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What Tomorrow Brings

I've decided that tomorrow, Sunday, October 9th, I will log my entire day starting at midnight tonight. Why midnight? Just to see if I am awakened in the early morning hours by a boy or a dog or a strange sound. 

I will "time stamp" as many of my activities as possible, and include all the minute details of my actions (except for the trips to the bathroom, of course).

Out of curiosity, I want to see what the heck I do on my "day off." With 2 small boys, 2 beagles, 1 husband and a house to run, my day off does not really include lounging :)

If tomorrow's log goes well, I will try to do the same thing on a work day.

Check back tomorrow evening to see what unfolds!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Time for Tuesday

Time? What is this "time" of which we speak? I do not seem to have any currently...

Thanks for stopping by, especially if you are wandering in from the blog hop. Take a moment to look through the "30 Day Challenge" blogs that I posted for the month of September.

Photobucket Busy Mom's Tips Tuesday Blog Hop

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Say Hi Sunday

Thanks for stopping by, especially if you are wandering in from the blog hop. Take a moment to look through the "30 Day Challenge" blogs that I posted for the month of September.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 29 of 30 Day Challenge

Three Things I Can't Live Without

1. My Kitchen - I love to cook and I would probably be very irritated if I had to eat out all of the time.

2. My MacBook - It is my lifeline to the people that are important to me.

3. Hot Water - My favorite time of day: Shower Time!!!!

I already had to live to one week without my phone and my car; that was pretty easy to survive, although I would not make a habit of it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 28 of 30 Day Challenge

My Favorite Books

So many to choose from, so little time :)

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink - awesome discussion of what our children need to learn and know written with a sense of humor

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - this book is written from the point of view of a young man with a mental disability who decides to investigate a neighborhood crime

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy - a woman with a hard life gets to witness life in the future; I found it very thought-provoking

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 27 of 30 Day Challenge

Three Wishes

1. I wish for my boys to grow in healthy and successful men.

2. I wish for my husband and I to enjoy a lifelong, loving marriage.

3. I wish to "Pay It Forward" and help the world one good deed at a time.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 26 of 30 Day Challenge

Best Concert I've Ever Been To

Honestly, I have not been to very many concerts. Mainly, I can't afford them. But my favorites have involved family:

I went with my Mom to see Celtic Women. It was great sharing the experience with her and enjoying a picnic :)

I went with my Brother to see Carbon Leaf. We were on vacation at the beach and he invited me along to hear a band he loves. Carbon Leaf has since been my favorite band :D

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Days 13-25 of 30 Day Challenge

If you couldn't guess, LIFE got the best of me and the first item to fall off of the to-do list was the blog. So now I am attempting to catch up.

Day 13 - Favorite Bible Verse or Quote

This is a saying that I have on a Post-It where I can see it every morning:
     "Make Me a Blessing to Someone Today."

Day 14 - Share Something I am Looking Forward To

I am planning to visit my best friend next summer, to finally meet her (almost) 2-year old and the new baby due in March. I have not seen her in a few years! It is such a challenge to arrange visits with the 3000 miles in-between us and our families to raise.

Day 15 - 3 Tips for a New Blogger

Um, I am a New Blogger, so any tips you can give me would be great!

Day 16 - 5 Blogs I Visit Daily

Pioneer Woman (she cracks me up!)
Good Girl Gone Green (great suggestions for leaving a smaller carbon footprint)
Anything posted by my Friends and Family

Day 17 - Something I Regret

Aren't we supposed to live life without regret? I think the only thing I would change about what have done in the time I've been on this Earth is to have a better understanding of DEBT before putting myself in it! I would like to tell my high school self to select the college with the FULL ride versus the half ride that I did pick (college loan repayment is disgusting!) and I would tell my grad school self to HIDE THE CREDIT CARDS!!!!

Day 18 - Something I Miss

My Dad, Gerard Gene Gateau: April 1, 1952 - July 15, 1995.

Day 19 - Nicknames

I really do not have any nicknames. My students call me Ms. Mac sometimes.
For a while, there was an ongoing joke based on some strange college recruitment mail I was getting: somehow my name got on a list as "Hekther Gosteau." I got some great lit from all-male colleges :) My best friend still calls me "Hekther."

Day 20 - Picture of Myself

Hmmm, which one to pick...

Day 21 - Something that Stresses Me Out

WHINING!!! Somedays I feel that I hear it at work from middle school students and at home from my 5-year-old!

Day 22 - Share My Hobbies

I LOVE to read!!! I belong to 2 book clubs, plus I read whatever I feel like reading. :)
I love to garden, both flowers & landscaping (pretty) and vegetables & herbs (purposeful).
I am a musician, so enjoy listening to and performing music.

Day 23 - Favorite Blog Hop

That would be: whichever hop I stumble upon on a given day!

Day 24 - Favorite Places to Shop

I have discovered a love of Kohls. I am not always impressed with the organization of the store or the customer service, however I love the clothing options.
Ann Taylor is also a favorite of mine for my professional wear.

Day 25 - Let's Do the Shuffle

I have multiple iPods (work, workout, personal), but my iPhone happens to be the one closest to me. This is probably the most eclectic since I have my own personal favorites, as well as trusty kid favorites and tracks for teaching flute lessons. Let's see what happens!

1. Three is a Magic Number by Blind Melon (from Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks)
2. American Tale by Carbon Leaf (from 5 Alive! Disc 1)
3. Be Like That by 3 Doors Down (from The Better Life)
4. Please Can I Keep It? by Laura Linney (from Philadelphia Chickens)
5. Breathe Today by Flyleaf (from Flyleaf)
6. Summertime by The Sundays (from Static & Silence)
7. Boots by The Laurie Berkner Band (from The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)
8. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2 (from The Best of 1980-1990)
9. It's Not Over by Daughtry (from Daughtry)
10. Gianni Schicchi by the London Philharmonic (from High Performance Flute)

And now I am caught up!!! Hurrah!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 12 of 30 Day Challenge

Goals for the Next Year

1. Have Connor successfully complete Kindergarten!

2. Finish painting the rooms of the house (we moved in last July and I have 2 bathrooms and a bedroom to go!)

3. Grow my Musikgarten classes!

4. Be more active at the local music school.

5. Strengthen my new local friendships and visit my time-tested friendships (working on trips to Maryland and California, still figuring out Georgia and Texas - why must my good friends and I have no fear of moving?).

6. Potty-train Ian. Hello, challenge!

7. Continue and improve upon living "green" and "natural."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 11 of 30 Day Challenge

What Am I Afraid Of?

I have the typical fears: bugs & spiders (but only if they're touching me!), tragedies affecting my loved ones, disasters, really high heights, etc.

But my largest fear is asphyxiation. I used to think I had claustrophobia (fear of small spaces), however I realized I was not fearful of the space, I was fearful of running out of air!! It takes a lot of mind-over-matter for me to go on an airplane. I do not like diving deep under water. I do not think I would ever be able to scuba dive, go in a submarine, or travel to space. 

At least my fear does not affect my everyday life :)

Lots of Lovin' Weekend Blog Hop

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 10 of 30 Day Challenge

My Special Someone

As a friend and I sat in our first class for Experimental Psychology, we surveyed our classmates. It was a night class, so there was a great mix of college-crowd and adult-learners (more of the latter). We noticed that in the row in front of us was a guy wearing college attire from another college: LOSER!! Thus began the heckling.

Over the course, we got to know this Loser and he often walked with us after class. He was a commuter and happened to park in the lot next to our dorm. We became friends and saw him socially over the next 2 years.

Then one magical spring Saturday, Fate decided it was time. We think we had life lessons to learn from the people we dated during the 2 years of friendship. I had just dumped my current boyfriend (and yes, "dumped" is the appropriate term since he was an immature idiot!) and was prepared to enjoy the band concert that night and few a drinks alone. Loser stopped by, stating that he had just dumped his current girlfriend (who lived 2 floors up) and wanted to stop by on his way home. Instead of spending the evening alone, we went to the concert together, enjoyed the drinks he had brought along, and shared a few kisses by the end of the night.

The summer brought us closer together, since I had already signed on to live and work on campus for the summer and he lived nearby. We were practically inseparable our Senior year (which I'm sure drove my friends nuts!). He followed me to grad school in Philadelphia and we were officially engaged the following December. We married a year and half later in a small ceremony with our closest friends and family.

He is my best friend. We have our arguments, but we do not "fight." We are still learning and growing in our relationship, and have added careers, dogs, sons, and all sorts of crazy to the mix!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 9 of 30 Day Challenge

Must-See TV

Yet another topic that will give you a glimpse of my personality :)

Project Runway 
(I got hooked while breast-feeding in the wee hours of the morning!)

Doctor Who 
(I blame my husband for this one)

The Glee Project
(Since I watched this, I feel I should start watching Glee)

(Letting my inner Nerd shine through!)

Torchwood: Miracle Day
(I like the "special" series more than the original series)

See where the Challenge started:

Find some new friends (and welcome to my new friends!):


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 8 of 30 Day Challenge

Share a Picture of My Friends

In the search of an appropriate picture, I realized that I do not have many pictures of my friends, especially recent pictures.

So here is a picture of my "sister" and my college roommate, taken in the limo on the way to my wedding :)

I wish I had pictures of Trey, April, Cathy, Sharlena, and Becky, too. Oh well!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 7 of 30 Day Challenge

Favorite Vacation

As I was pondering this topic, I was very indecisive. Should I pick one from childhood? Or perhaps one with just my husband and I? Or something more recent with the whole family?

Then I realized which was my favorite vacation, although I'm not sure it technically qualifies as a "vacation."

When I was 16, I had an opportunity to spend 2 weeks touring 6 countries in Europe with a group of high school musicians. I do not consider it a "vacation;" there was a lot of work involved, since we had a performance practically every other day while in Europe!

It started with spending a weekend on a college campus in Pennsylvania learning all of the music. I was with 3 other students from my high school as well as our choir director. I was first chair flute in the band and I had the piccolo solo in "The Stars and Stripes Forever." (If you are not a band geek, just let that sentence go right out the other side of your brain.) We lived in the dorms and worked out butts off to be ready to perform our music in Europe.

Then they put us on buses, drove us to LaGuardia, packed us on a plane, and we were off!! Approximately 100 high school students and 5 adults... no parents allowed!!! AWESOME!!! We toured around Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and France. We performed in small towns and larger cities. We enjoyed local culture, food, and drinks. We had a blast!!!

One of the best memories from that trip was being lost in Strasburg, France, with my friend Laurel. We wandered for around an hour, not really concerned that we had no clue where we were. The only real moment of desperation was when we needed a restroom and did not know how to ask in French! (I spoke Spanish and Laurel spoke German). A bit of gesturing in a nice cafe found us the appropriate "water closet." Eventually we found a multi-lingual man who pointed us in the right direction to get back to our hotel :)

I would love to share pictures with you, however this was pre-digital and all my photos are in a photo album with no time to scan them.

That trip was definitely a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience! I will always be thankful that my parents took out a loan from their business to provide this amazing opportunity for me!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 6 of 30 Day Challenge

My Favorite Movies

This list will really show my personality :) Alright, let's see now...

The Princess Bride: "Inconceivable!" 

Young Frankenstein: "Roll! Roll! Roll in ze hay!"

The Replacements: "I Will Survive!"

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 5 of 30 Day Challenge

A Photo That Makes Me Happy

I can only pick one? Hmm, this will be tough!

Enough said :)