6/30/11

Honey Do List for Summer

Believe it or not, Dave Ryan's morning show inspired this post.  They have a "bucket list" for summer.  Obviously, it's not the true concept, but something similar.  So I brought this up to Nate over our anniversary dinner at Pittsburgh Blue, and we thought we'd come up with a summer list as well:
  1. Learn to cook the perfect scallop
  2. Enroll Liv in dance classes
  3. Have a family portrait taken
  4. Grill a rack of ribs
  5. Take Liv to Como Town for rides
  6. Use our 2nd "all day" wristband at Nickelodeon Universe
  7. Watch fireworks over the 4th of July Weekend
  8. Make a wreath for our front door
  9. Shampoo all the carpets (not a glamorous one!)
  10. Stain the deck and throw a fabulous party for it's unveiling
  11. Learn to bake cake pops for Genna's baby shower
  12. Organize something fun for our street on National Night Out (August 2nd!)
There are a million more "home" projects to add, but I'm trying to keep this fun.  We'll see how things go.  I'm glad we'll be able to check off #7 in a few days.  Liv is finally old enough, I think she can make it for fireworks at the cabin.  Can't wait!  Last year, it was the best weekend we had all summer - I hope we can recreate that this year!

6/28/11

Sisters

I have been given two beautiful, wonderful girls.  Olivia will be 3 in September and Avery is almost 3 months old.  Avery is at that very cute "social" stage in her development.  She smiles at faces, turns to voices, coos and talks back.  It's so fun to see this little lump grow and respond.

I'd like to say that she loves me best and reacts the most for her mama.  But her sister Olivia is her world these days.  She hears her voice and calms down.  Liv entertains Avery while she's on the changing table, and just tonight, I sat Avery up to burp her and she looked over at her big sister (mesmerized by "Jake and the Neverland Pirates") and gave her the biggest smile, even though Liv didn't even know she was there.  She LOVES her big sister.

Being a little sister myself, I know how that goes.  My Molly was my everything as a kid.  I wanted to be with her, do what she was doing, not miss a single moment and I realize now, I was a giant pest, but all I did was love her to the tips of my toes.  I am smart enough to know that the gleen of a baby sister will soon wear off for my big girl and Avery will become a pest just like me.  While Nate will sympathize with Liv for being the oldest, I will encourage Avery for being the youngest and loving her sister to the tips of her toes.

I won't be able to convince her when it will bring comfort, but she won't always be the pest - or at least not always as BIG of a pest as a true "little sister" can be.

To this day, I still love my big sister to the tips of my toes.  I love being a woman, and a wife and a mom with her.  We used to crimp our hair and play "hair salon" in the bathroom, among fighting over space and clothes and lord knows what else girls fight about. Now we're dressing up our own girls, talking about home decorations and pasta recipes, among other adult-like things, like managing a home and family and work and the world.   

Two healthy babies.  That's all I wanted - boy, girl, purple or green.  I didn't care.  But now, knowing that I have two sisters in my home, I love it even more.  I love my Molly and I know Avery will love Olivia the same way.  I can only assume the feelings are returned from both big sisters, but that's not why we give love, is it?

Olivia and Avery

Nora's Baptism (Avery's there, you just can't see her yet!)
At my shower for Olivia

Molly and me on her birthday

"Having a sister is like having a best friend you can't get rid of. You know whatever you do, they'll still be there."

 

6/23/11

Nutella Ricotta Stuffed Pancakes

We bought a few jars of Nutella to send sandwiches with Liv in the morning.  Her school has since moved from a peanut-free zone, to a nut free zone, so now what am I going to do with all of this stuff??  Wait... who doesn't like pancakes!


I found this, and a slew of other Nutella Recipes - eat it up!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups unbleached  flour
2 eggs
1 – 1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp. butter or vegetable oil 
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbs sugar
2 tbs part skim ricotta cheese
2 tbs Nutella
1 handful sliced almonds (optional)
Honey or syrup

First, whisk the flour, eggs, milk, butter, salt, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl until there are no clumps.
Second, mix in the ricotta cheese and nutella.  Stir in the almonds (if desired).  Adjust the amount of milk as needed.  The batter should pour easily but not be too runny.  
Third, heat a griddle and when hot, drop a pat of butter or vegetable oil onto the surface.  Drop about a 1/4 cup of batter on the middle of the skillet.  When the pancake starts to look firm and bubbles a bit on the top, use a spatula to flip.  Cook until the other side is browned.  
Fourth, to keep the pancakes hot while you make a batch, you can either store each pancake on an ovenproof plate in the oven on low heat (~125 degrees) or place a piece of aluminum foil over a plate pressing it down on three sides leaving one side open to slide the pancakes in.  
Fifth, enjoy with a pat of butter topped by honey or syrup.



6/22/11

Hair Clip Board

This project came about at the request of my sister.  I'm glad that she wanted one for her sweet Miss Baby, Nora, because Liv sure had enough chips and bows to fill two of these!


You'll need:
  • A frame of your choosing - I recommend at least 12 x 18 - the bigger the better, just make sure it's going to fit the wall space.  I promise, you won't have any issue filling it up!
  • Fabric large enough to cover the "backing of the frame"
  • Batting
  • Ribbon - I recommend 1" grosgrain (no wire)
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Tape
  • Paper clips (not shown) 


Remove the glass and cardboard backing from the frame.  Trash or keep the glass - we won't be needing it for this project.  Trim the batting and secure to the backing board with hot glue.  Trim the excess before wrapping with fabric so it fits snuggly back into the frame.


Trim the fabric to the size of your backer, plus about 1-2 inches to wrap and secure on the reverse side. 
To attach the fabric, wrap around the backing and secure on 1 side with the tape.  I find this helps you pull the opposite side taught.  Run a bead of hot glue along your non-taped side.  Start from the middle, pull and secure the side.  Repeat on opposite sides.


Fold the corners like a present.  You can use a little tape or hot glue to secure the corner in place.  Run a bead of glue and secure in the same way as the first 2 sides.


Cut 4 ribbons to length over the board, plus about and inch or so to wrap around on the backside.  Center the first ribbon and secure.  Repeat with the remain 4, leaving 1 empty slot on either the right or left side.
This is where you can add loops for headbands if you'd like.  This step is optional - if you don't want this, just use 5 straight ribbons.
Choose the side based on your space (ours in in the bathroom, so we had the mirror and doorway to contend with)


Cut a length of ribbon about 3 times the length of your board.  This is going to be more than enough, but I've done this enough to know it's better to have something to trim off than not have enough!

Starting at the bottom, loop the ribbon up and fold over; about 3 inches.  Secure with a paper clip.  Repeat 2 or 3 more times depending on the size of your board.'


First, squirt a little glue into the "loop" and then secure to the loop to the ribbon (shown on the left in this shot).  I promise, it'll make sense once you're there.


Secure the 5th loop ribbon and position the board into the frame.  Secure back to the frame using the "prongs" that are attached to the original frame (this is why it's key to not add extra bulk to the sides so it fits back in nicely.)

Miss Mari is going to enjoy this board, if I do say so myself!


Here's ours, from one little girl.  Lord knows how many more we'll collect with the second!!  So worth it for the organization factor!  Enjoy!

Paper Flower Vase Filler

Got this idea from Pinterest, my newest obsession.  I tweeked the flower design - I pushed two flowers on a pin and twisted them so they had almost a full circle of petals.  The original design had one flat flower and one bent.

This project was incredibly easy, but incredibly putsy.  My thumbs ache right now after 1, but I can't wait to make more.  I will be investing in a thimble!


You will need Styrofoam balls (size of your choice, I used 4"); cardstock of your choice (this size took about 2.5 sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper), punch (I tried to snap a shot of the Fiskars one I used, but it's a 5 petal punch), small head push pins and a Styrofoam block.  I purchased multicolor pins (they were half the price as the white pearl ones) and spray painted them white.


Tip:  My second round of pins (I used them all on the first 4" ball) I plan to put a scrap piece of paper between the pins and the foam.  The spray paint ate away at the foam.  Also, try to push the pins down as far as you can (and still get them out)  Paint on the pin portion makes it harder to push them thru paper and foam later.


Layer the flower on the pin and start adding them to the foam ball...


.... and keep pinning...


And you're done.  And you have super sore fingers, but an awesome decor item for your home!  And yes, that's the devil dog thinking this ball is for her.  I have no doubt, she would need 4 seconds to tear through this thing!

6/20/11

Father's Day

I'll share how my morning went with my own Dad.  It really is more of a story for "Grandparents Day," but the theme still fits.

Liv and I took the t-shirt the "kids" had made for him over to the house while we were out running errands.  I found a t-shirt on Etsy where I could have all of their names put on it.  Apparently the best $25 I've spent in awhile.  He opened it, teared up, took the glasses off, roughly wiped tears away and walked away down the hall.

For those of you who were around pre-grandchildren, you know this reaction was something to write home about.  Tom Kipp would never be classified as a "soft-hearted" man.  Before my sister's first son, Charlie, was born, who's now six, I can remember my dad crying twice: once when my grandmother died of breast cancer, the other when my brother lost his arm.  He's just not a crier.  Or at least he WASN'T a crier.  Now the man tears up at everything. Cards, hugs from the kids, when they get shots at the doctor's office, every time he parts ways from the Hatton family (him and Charlie will get the whole room sobbing!)  He's just a... well... he's a... mortal man.

Deep down, I know he's doing this out of fear and realization of his own mortality.  I clearly remember at my wedding, before walking me down the aisle, he was wandering away from the open church doors, again, wiping his eyes.  I asked later why he was so tearful and he said, "I never thought I'd see this day."  He's an old man - this year's cake will have 71 candles on it.  He's seen more in the past 5 or 10 years than I sure he ever dreamed, and loved every minute.  He's calm and patient with the grand kids.  Again, I know - the Tom from my days in high school - not a patient person.

He's a good grandpa and I'm grateful that my girls get to know him in this way.  Olivia will tell anyone she's "Grandpa's Beauty Girl."  I hope she'll always remember that.














6/17/11

Felt Rosette - Wavy Petals

This is the same as my 1st Felt Rosettes, but just a different shape to the petal.  Refer to the detailed steps in the Felt Rosette for more photos.



Materials you'll need:  scissors, felt of your choosing and hot glue


Cut out about 7-8 five-petal flowers.  I made my own template, but just keep mind it doesn't have to be perfect - it won't make one bit of difference once they're glued down.  The smaller one is about 2" across (shown).  I made a larger flower too, and that one was about 4" across.


Fold each petal in half, and half again. 


Snip the ends and glue to your circle backer.




Work at gluing the petals around the edges of the circle first and then stick the last two or three in the middle - ta da!  You have a lovely flower.


The two sizes I've made...

 
This will go on Baby Belle's head when she wakes up tomorrow.  Funny how most of my "free time" is after 8 PM.

Felt Rosette

After the inspiration of many, I have created a flower that I hope you find as darling as I do!



You'll need:  scissors, felt of your choice and a hot glue gun. 

Start by cutting out circles, depending on how large you want your flower.  You'll need about 10-12 circles for petals, 1 to glue them to and then, if you're making a hair accessory, a second to back it.  I used 2" circles for the backers and 1.5" for the petals.  It made a flower about 3.5-4" in diameter.



Fold each circle in half, and then half again. 


Cut off the tip of your rounded triangle piece.


Dab hot glue onto the missing point and press onto one of your "backer" circles.  Repeat steps and keep gluing them around the edge of the circle first and then move in to the center.  Alternate directions as you see fit to make the flower look "natural and freeform."


As you can see, it looks a little funky at first, but I promise once you get all of the petals on, it will be beautiful!


 And there you have it!  A lovely rosette fit for a pin, hair tie or even baby head band...


I bought this pack of Goody headbands at Target - sized perfectly for a baby head.


I wanted to just use the "white side" but in any case, find the seam and this is where you'll place the rosette.  Dab a little glue on the seam and place and rosette on there.


Take your second "backer" circle and put hot glue over the entire surface.


Stick on the back of the rosette and...


Now, where can I find a baby to try this on...


There's one!


Happy Crafting!

Lucky in life

I hate to make this sappy. I want this blog to be funny and fun. But my mind is realing with the notion that my kids picked me to be their mom.


I was reminded again today with how incredibly fortunate I am to have the kids and family that I do.  Nate and I have said on more than one occassion that we don't always have what we want, but we have what we need.  The bank account is never over-flowing, but we always seem to manage to get what we need for us - even if what we "need" at the time seems silly and frivolous.  My heart aches to think of our good friends and the hardships they have faced, especially with their kids.  Sick kids, kids who leave their parent's arms far too soon, kids who don't even ever get to be kissed.  How is it that we basically decided one night over a glass of wine, "Let's have a baby," and Olivia was born?  And then, without meaning to, we are given this sweet baby Avery?  How is that we are deemed fit?
 
I guess the simple answer is we're always given what we need, not what we want.  Do I mean to say that my darling friends and their gorgeous babies NEEDED to have the fate they did?  Not exactly.  But without them, the world wouldn't be where it is today.  I wouldn't be the mom I am if I didn't know their stories.
 
I guess we don't always realize what we need, but have to trust that someone out there does.

6/14/11

Pom Flower Necklace

After getting a great set of hair bows for my girls from the lovely and darling Heather, I had to seek out how to make more of these for my beauties. In my search, I stumbled upon one of the best blogs I could find. If I could be Little Miss Mama, I would. She's gorgeous and tallented (and has an awesome camera to boot!)

I plan to add my own notes to this project once I can find a decent naptime, bedtime, weekend not filled with other fun, but in the meantime, ENJOY!

6/3/11

Cuban Chimichurri

Courtesy of Taste of Home - June/July 2011

7 garlic cloves
1 1/4 c packed fresh cilantro leaves
3/4 c packed fresh parsley springs
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1/4 c white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp grated lime peel
1/3 c olive oil

Place garlic in small food processor, cover and chop. Add the herbs, pepper flakes and pepper; cover and process until finely chopped.

Add vinegar, lime juice, soy and lime peel. While processing, gradually add oil through feed tube. Serve with steak.

Wasabi Butter

Courtesy of Taste of Home, June/July 2011

Combine 1/2 cup butter with 1 Tbsp chopped green onion, 1 1/2 tsp prepared wasabi and 1/4 tsp soy sauce

Maple Butter

Courtesy of Taste of Home, June/July 2011

Combine 1/2 cup softened butter with 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp fresh minced parsley and a dash of pepper.

Savoy, Lime and Cilantro Coleslaw

Courtesy of The Food Network and Tyler Florence

1 head Savoy cabbage
4 scallions
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, torn
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 limes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Shave the cabbage with a sharp knife or mandoline so you have thin ribbons. Cut the scallions long and on the bias so you have pieces similar in shape to the cabbage. Toss the cabbage, scallions and cilantro in a large salad bowl.

Make the dressing by combining the sour cream, mayonnaise, sugar and the zest of the limes in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and finish with a squeeze of lime juice. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine.

Grilled Corn and Tomato-Sweet Onion Salad with Fresh Basil Dressing and Crumbled Blue Cheese

Courtesy of The Food Network and Bobby Flay

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ears corn, grilled in the husk, kernels removed
1 sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla), halved and thinly sliced
1 pint Sweet 100 tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

Combine the vinegar, basil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Can be made 2 hours in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.

Combine the corn kernels, onion and tomato in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat, season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Top with crumbled blue cheese and garnish with basil sprigs just before serving. Salad can be made 1 day in advance and served cold or at room temperature.

Fresh Corn Salad

Courtesy of The Food Network and Ina Garten

5 ears of corn, shucked
1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.

Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.
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