Where did the summer go?! (and a PSA)

Awhile ago I swore up and down I would start blogging as soon as summer rolled around.  And then summer rolled around… and we went to the water park, the library, and David started scuba diving courses.  We spent quite a bit of time up at Tahoe when he did various dives.  Then I decided that I too would become scuba certified.  So as of this past weekend I am now open water certified with NAUI.  David… well he went a little crazy with it all and he’s now a certified rescue diver with NAUI.  We have yet to go backpacking, but we have 2 in the works before fall hits (along with more dives, naturally).

The girls are slowly ramping up their homeschooling, and only whining about it roughly half the time.  As stated before that slice of hell will be documented more in depth on my homeschooling blog, where I can assure you I will have a colorful metaphor laced vocabulary.

I’m really hoping to be in the swing of things soon though, and hopefully I’ll have pictures of some of our adventures to share!!  😀

As for my PSA…

I was cruising around on Pinterest, as I do often, and came across a recipe I decided to look at.  In the comments section someone commented how their food didn’t look the same as the picture.  The blogger made a remark about how it took a long time to fashion the food for pictures and that’s why it likely doesn’t look the same.  While I am a photographer and I understand the whole concept of food styling I frankly don’t have the time nor the energy to spend forever making my food look picture perfect.
The pictures I post are of the food I am actually about to put into my face.  Sometimes the lighting is sketchy, and if I’m really hungry you’re likely to get a picture from my iPhone.  What you see is what you get.

The place setting you see is what is at my table that moment.  Sometimes I may angle it if it’s totally heinous non-coordinating.  Although maybe I shouldn’t since most of the time that is care of my 8 year old setting the table to look beautiful.

I’m all for people who do take their time to be meticulous for their blog, but that’s not my style.  If you enjoy that much reality in your face on a food blog, then yay!  If not, that’s cool too.  🙂

 

Signature

Advertisements

Finding my Groove

I realized not too long ago that I actually miss blogging.  I miss trying new things, taking pictures, and sharing it with others.  Between getting a job, being struck down by my GI disease and having part of my colon removed due to it, getting married, kids, my husband being back in school, and actively losing weight to reverse other things I’ve been diagnosed with in the last 24 months (PCOS and Hashimoto’s)  … I have been worn out.   I’m trying to get back into making as many things homemade as I can.

We (by we I mostly mean I) decided to homeschool this coming school year, and that slice of irreverent chronicling will take place over at Coffee Until Wine.  Please be aware that my use of colorful metaphors there is substantially higher.  There are a lot of homeschooling blogs that are very faith based and I am kind of the antithesis of all that.  In an effort to keep Gingham Apron a little more friendly, with fewer colorful metaphors, I have created the separate blog for homeschooling.  🙂

Since things will be changing a lot for us with me ceasing to work in order to homeschool I have to hop back on the frugal make-all-the-things-at-home train.  I’ve already begun making my own laundry detergent again, and I’m trying a new dishwasher detergent recipe as well.  Food wise I have been filling my pails with gamma seal lids full of dried goods, and making more things from scratch – sourdough crackers, sourdough english muffins, sourdough pancakes, bread, yogurt, kombucha, “refried” beans, ricotta .. and pretty much anything else I can do on my own to cut costs.

Between now and summer I want to post once per week.  Once traditional school it out I hope to post more often.  I just need to find my groove in all this craziness.

 

Signature

Homemade Skyline Chili Recipe

I lived just outside of Cincinnati when I was little. My first real concert was at Riverfront Stadium. Yes, it was New Kids on the Block. I was like 9 or 10. Which frankly scares the crap out of me since Nola is the exact same age, but I digress. I distinctly remember Ollie’s Trolley from visiting my dad at work downtown, but honestly I don’t remember Skyline. Horrible to admit, I know. Somehow in the past few years David has come to like the only variety available to us here in Nevada… cans. Specifically 8 cans for $60. That’s $7.50 a can! O_O

By the time you’ve fed 4 people that devour Skyline Chili you’ve used 2 cans. That’s $15 and you’ve not even gotten the spaghetti, onions, or shredded cheese. I have most of the ingredients on hand at all times already. There is one big change I’ve made to the recipe I found, and that is the type of meat I use. Ground turkey has become more of a staple around here and so that’s what I used. I don’t think it made that much of a difference in taste, and visually you can’t tell either. It still gets consumed at break neck speeds here.

Skyline

Skyline Chili from Tornado Ali @ Food.com – Slight changes by me. 😉

1.25 lbs ground turkey (Jennie-O packs are 1.25 pounds)
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups beef broth
15 ounces tomato sauce
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsps instant minced garlic
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I omit this, kids and all)
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 bay leaf

1 package spaghetti noodles

Toppings
Onion, finely chopped
Cheddar cheese, finely shredded

Chop 2 cups of onions. I usually use an entire onion and call it good.

In a large pan, I use my enamel dutch oven, cook turkey meat. Brown if at all possible, and do *not* drain. Add onion an cook a few minutes longer.

While turkey is cooking measure all dry ingredients into a bowl. I use Better Than Bullion for the beef broth, and add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to that.

Add all remaining ingredients to cooked meat and tender onions. Let simmer until sauce has reduced quite a bit. It can take 60 to 90 minutes. I do use 3/4 of a pound LESS meat than what the original recipe states, so the liquid has to cook down more, but it turned out quite good. David really likes how the sauce cooks down and there is more flavor.

Once the chili is nearly done simmering down, get your spaghetti cooked.

Top spaghetti with a scoop of chili, then top the chili with the finely chopped onions, then top the onions with finely shredded cheese. This my friends is what is called a “4-way”. Sophia prefers the “3-way” since she does not like raw onions (she somehow fails to realize there are onions IN the meat… don’t tell her). I know you can get beans with it, but frankly that just seems sacrilegious.

Try not to become too addicted.

I know that for some spaghetti and chili might seem weird. Okay, chili with cocoa powder might be really weird too, but it’s awesome. It’s not always a dish that is loved instantly. It’s taken Sophia two years to get to the point where she enjoys eating, and is still kind of ambivalent if I try to pretend I don’t want to make Skyline for dinner. Nola … well, she’ll go into near hysterics at the notion of making something else. At least it’s something everyone will eat without complaint I suppose. 😛

Signature

Lego Friends aren’t hurting my girls…

I woke up yesterday morning to my daughters playing. It’s pretty typical of a weekend that they are up well before David and I, and likely already gone downstairs and helped themselves to breakfast. I love how capable they are at doing things for themselves now! Sometime around 8am I realized they were “going to the moon” and then Nola launched something down the stairs … The distinct sound of Legos coming apart was the only sound followed by a nonchalant “whoops” and some other very dry comment. Nola’s sense of humor and attitude is quickly developing and she’s already got smartass nailed.

That comment was quickly followed up with a small voice saying “Heeey that was special! Daddy and I made it.” Nola assured Sophia that it could be remade, which sounded exactly like what I had said to my friends son Friday night when he broke a Lego ship. Nola had attempted to help him rebuild then too.

This is Sophia's room - Spongebob is sleeping, Princess Peach is clearly being a stalker, and a Lego Friend is cruising in her custom ride.  Also there's a totally destroyed bookcase in the back, with books that have been consumed with gusto - at 9pm when Sophia *should* be sleeping.  :P

This is Sophia’s room – Spongebob is sleeping, Princess Peach is clearly being a stalker, and a Lego Friend is cruising in her custom ride. Also there’s a totally destroyed bookcase in the back, with books that have been consumed with gusto – at 9pm when Sophia *should* be sleeping. 😛

A few hours later the girls were playing Harry Potter. Sophia was apparently in Hufflepuff. An hour after that Nola informed me she wanted to learn how to sew a waistband into a skirt. And another few hours later involved some Rainbow Loom ties being created. In all there were creations “sewn” from Kleenex, a braided necklace made, books about Titanic and penguins were read, and Rainbow Loom creations came into existence (and rubber bands were scattered around the house, again). You know … A very normal day in a house with two little girls with imaginations that clearly can take them to the moon at 8am.

I’m writing this in part because I want to remember the details, and because it was amusing and I loved it. Also because it made me think. A few weeks ago I read something about how horrid those pink and purple Legos are. How girls 30 years ago didn’t have pink Legos, just the “normal” ones. 30 years ago was the start of my pre-school years, and those toys they speak of were my toys. Now granted there is no way in hell anyone could confuse me for being overly girly, and those who know me well are deeply amused by my having two VERY girly-girls. 10 years ago when I was pregnant with Nola I vowed no pink and no princess.

We see how far I got with that. *sigh*

This is a little snapshot of Nola's room.  Harry Potter, a jewelry box, a tiara, and a microscope.  I didn't stage any of that, it's how she had it on her toy organizer.  If you were to turn around you'd see a super tidy bookcase, a ukelele, and a chess set.  I had to avoid stepping on the ukelele on the floor though.

This is a little snapshot of Nola’s room. Harry Potter, a jewelry box, a tiara, and a microscope. I didn’t stage any of that, it’s how she had it on her toy organizer. If you were to turn around you’d see a super tidy bookcase, a ukelele, and a chess set. I had to avoid stepping on the ukelele on the floor though.

The thing is – my girls don’t like Ninjago (did I spell that right?). They don’t care about Minecraft. Nola would love to have Star Wars Legos (holy crap are those things expensive) and Sophia has a few Spongebob Lego sets. The Lego Friends sets give them Legos in their favorite colors, and they love all the animals that come with them. Except for the first time the sets were put together I don’t think they’ve been in the intended forms. They build homes, cars, towers … All sorts of things. David even discovered a Lego “bed” on Sophia’s dresser a few weeks ago. It was rudimentary, but she proudly put “Tinkie” to bed on it.

There are hours spent with Daddy on the weekend building from time to time, and it’s loved by them all. I usually use the quiet time to take a relaxing bath, or catch up on cleaning, but I love to watch the 3 of them laying on the bedroom floor creating random works of art. The color of the blocks really doesn’t matter in those moments. If it gets my girls, or any girls for that matter, into building and dreaming things up then who cares that they are pink and purple?

My life is filled with pink and purple… And skirts, dresses, hearts, play jewelry, stuffed animals, baby dolls, Barbies, flowers, doing hair, and fending off requests for nail polish and ear piercings. There are also bumps, bruises, scrapes, stitches, fighting, screaming, hitting, kicking, sports, and holes in knees of jeans … And I wouldn’t trade any of it.

Okay, the fighting and hitting each other can go, I’m over that … And the dramas … So over that.

I’ll keep the Lego Friends, and my two little Hermonie Granger’s, because they are smart, funny, creative, and have awesome imaginations that are not impeded by the color of plastic building blocks.

A Geronimo Stilton book, microscope slides, and Nola's wooden chess set.

A Geronimo Stilton book, microscope slides, and Nola’s wooden chess set.

Every morning a few stuffed animals get tucked in when Sophia makes her bed.  Maybe they're nocturnal and they're keeping Sophia up at night... telling her that she must read.  :P

Every morning a few stuffed animals get tucked in when Sophia makes her bed. Maybe they’re nocturnal and they’re keeping Sophia up at night… telling her that she must read. 😛

Yep. I love those girls.

Signature

All is love- even math

There is a blog post going viral right now. It’s been all over my Facebook feed in the last 18 hours. It needs to be read. Go read it… I don’t even care if you come back here, just go read it.

Momastery – Share This With All the Schools, Please

I had read this story last night. I’ve since read it two more times.

Sophia was laying in bed with me this morning and telling me how no on wants to play with her at recess. I asked her if she ever asked anyone to play, and she waffled a bit as to if she did or not. She’s afraid of asking one friend to play because she plays with her brother, and she’s unsure about the brother. I asked about another friend who has recess with her now and she tried to explain why she doesn’t really ask if she can play. She said she’s asked others and been told no. I told her that sometimes others will say no, and that’s okay, but at least she asked.

The thing is that while recess may not seem like a big deal to adults it is a HUGE deal to a 6 year old. It’s something she felt she needed to talk to me about during our special snuggle time in the morning while Nola showers. She’s not typically a shy child, and she seems to do just fine in the classroom both socially and academically.

What is the disconnect at recess?

Is it not as bad as she says?

Does her class aide see this?

Does it need to be addressed?

I had a moment of hesitation in considering having a talk with the aide, but after really letting the message of this viral blog post sink in I will be talking to the aide after school today. Sure, it’s just recess, and sure it could be a 6 year old being a little overdramatic … but it’s impacting her. As adults we so easily shrug things off, and we need to remember what it was like when we were kids, and how the things that seem inconsequential now were devastating as a child.

I sent the blog link to the assistant principal of the school, and hopefully she will share with the teachers. Luckily my girls attend a school that for the most part is very open and diverse, so things like clothes and lunches are not typically made fun of. Not like when Nola was in 1st grade and refused to take her favorite foods or wear her Keen sandals to school because kids ruthlessly made fun of her.

As a person who was bullied as a child I think that teacher is truly helping children in ways that would have helped me immensely. I applaud her, and I hope that anyone who cares about the well being of children will help ensure all educators see this Momastery blog post.

Signature

The Crud, iPods and Reflections

Ever since the first day of winter break my home has not been able to catch a break. Sophia started off on December 20th with a fever of 103. By the time she felt better Nola was down for the count. They were both doing better just in time for school to start on January 6th, but then shortly after that David got sick and even came home from work early. He spent 2 more days home from work before going back. Shortly after he started feeling better I was knocked down with some level of whatever had been floating around, though I managed to avoid the fever that everyone else had. I just have a bit of a cough and now a possible mild sinus infection.

Because all 4 of us getting taken down in the span of a month isn’t enough Sophia woke up yesterday morning with a croup like cough. *sigh*

If she gets bronchitis again like she did this time last year I’m going to lose my mind.

In other news, the gift of an iPod for both girls has been very well received…

Nola iPod

Nola was getting into singing Gift of a Friend yesterday. ❤

My own new favorite song of the moment is actually one I picked up for free on iTunes the other day… MisterWives – Refelections

I’m tempted to spend the $3.99 to get the EP, because I actually really like their sound. — Scratch that, I bought it before I could even hit the publish button. 😉

Signature

2014 in 2014 – Update #1

Sometimes getting side tracked is awesome. Like this afternoon… I was playing Diablo 2 (my Christmas present I got myself with my Amazon gift card one of the girls got me) and had to stop for a bathroom break. On my way back downstairs I for some unknown reason ended up in the girls bedroom. It’s a mess, well, it *was* a mess. It’s no longer a mess thanks to me getting sidetracked. Tomorrow I need to vacuum, but their bookcases and toy bins are organized as are the totes under their beds. I even put Sophia side of the closet in order!

Warning: The following pictures are taken with my iPad mini, while they will do in a pinch they are certainly NOT the quality I would typically post. It was 5 minutes until bed time and I was just grabbing quick snaps of it before the two little tornados wake up in the morning and undo all my work. 😉

The closet and "toy bin"

The closet and “toy bin, excuse the closet shelf, I didn’t get all of that done today.

Reading Area - 2 bookcases, 2 learning towers, 2 pillow mats, and a menagerie of stuffed animals.

Reading Area – 2 bookcases, 2 learning towers, 2 pillow mats, and a menagerie of stuffed animals.

The totes under the bed actually have all their lids, the shoe rack is organized, and the dresser isn't covered in paper!!

The totes under the bed actually have all their lids, the shoe rack is organized, and the dresser isn’t covered in paper!!

I’m just going to count all the trash removed as 12 items, because honestly I lost count with all the wrecked art projects and random small/broken toys.

I have 50 items, mostly books and old mittens and hats, set aside to donate.

I also cleaned up a few things downstairs this morning and tossed 13 items.

Total for today… 75!

Only 1,939 items left to go!

Tomorrow is another day to get things accomplished, and I’m kind of liking the neat and order that comes along with this decluttering.

Signature

Hey, how’s it going?

I’ve been absent, again, I know.

I have been going to the gym with regularity for the last 6 weeks. I’m sitting at the same weight loss I was when I started, but my muscle definition has increased SO much, and my pants are fitting better than before! 😀

Sophia’s had a few field trips I’ve attended.

I had a Girl Scout bridging party, and the final meetings. Which ended up being WAY more planning than I ever thought possible.

I had quite a bit of dental work done – more fillings than I will admit to, and a deep cleaning on both halves of my mouth.

There have been school functions, and a PTO meeting where I was elected as the secretary for next school year.

Tomorrow is the last full day of school for the girls. They have free day tomorrow, and then the graduation ceremony on Friday. I will cry like a baby I’m sure, but my baby is “graduating” from Kindergarten! How in the crap do I have a 1st grader already?! It’s simply not possible!!

I hove posts to make, updates to past posts to make, and not having a schedule that looks like this – take kids to school, go to gym, eat, shower, pick up Sophia, attempt to clean house, get Nola, make dinner, stare off into space all evening – will help greatly in being more regular with posts. Also next school year.. Sophia is going to be FULL DAY! The moderate gas savings makes me a happy camper. 😉

Spring Break

I took the girls down to Alameda for the first week of Spring Break. They enjoy going to Stephanie’s house because they are a little more free to run around outside there. I enjoy going there because we end up pigging out on something baked, craft, and have quite a bit of fun.

I may also love the Bay Area a little bit…

SpringBreak2013-108

Who can argue with that?!

Continue reading

Imagine

David has 3 guitars. One electric that rarely comes out of the case, an inexpensive acoustic that he’s had since before we were together, and a Takamine acoustic guitar that he got last year (it was very much a splurge item that he’s been holding off nearly a decade to buy). Music is kind of a thing here. I fully admit I like it when he plays the intro to Tesla’s “Lovesong”, and just about any RHCP.

The same day he got his Takamine we got Nola a ukelele. It’s not been used much by her, actually David has used it far more. Nola has been wanting to do a myriad of things for “Community Gathering” (a monthly talent show of sorts) at school for some time now, and I have been telling her that she should really practice with her ukelele and get good. She finally told David she really wanted to have a lesson on her ukelele today. ❤

She's concentrating pretty hard...

Continue reading