Friday, October 28, 2011

October Memories

We are loving watchingthe World Series together as a family. Every game is party time!
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Roasted "Baby Cabbages!" or Brussel Sprouts

I have been looking forward to roasting these Brussels sprouts for days and we've just been too busy to do it - which is silly because it was really fast!  I cut each sprout in half, tossed them with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them in a 450 degree oven until they were crispy and caramelized. 

I told the boys they were "baby cabbages" and they thought they were adorable.  Maybe they will grow up associating Brussels sprouts with YUM instead of yuck. 

One word of caution: you can see that I sliced my garlic - bad idea.  It got too done - not burned but over-browned.  I had to pull it out halfway through cooking and toss it (head in the oven, frying off my eyelashes...).  I should have done what I usually do, which is to crush each clove with the flat of a knife and toss them in whole. 

Give it a try, and Happy Roasting!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy Saturday!

Check out Sammy at a Star Wars themed birthday party (by the way, the party was super cute with brown "padawan learner" tunics and a foam and duct tape light saber for each kid).   He thought himself quite fierce, though I thought him quite cute!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mini-Book: BEACH

I wanted to make a really simple little book from our trip and I wanted it finished the week we came back. Sound unlikely?  Well, I did it!  It was fun and came together soooo quickly!  Now I have a casual little booklet that the kids are enjoying looking at and I've carried around to a couple of people to show about our trip.

How could it possibly be fast, you ask?  Especially since we came back with over 500 pictures (from two cameras) and I loved lots of them!  I really did have to simplify in order to make the goal of a quick mini book practical.

Here are a few things I used to make it happen:
  1. Since I usually spend some time during the trip itself enjoying looking at my photos, I put that time to work and started choosing favorites during the trip.  That way after we got home I could finish narrowing down pretty quickly.  I chose 54 pictures to print so I obviously didn't narrow that much!  Since the book design is so simple, having that many pictures wasn't a problem.
  2. I cropped all of my pictures in portrait (up and down).  This was my first instinct, but then because there were a few that wouldn't work that way I rethought and rethought it before I came back around to it again.  The whole book would have been even faster if I had just accepted this idea to start with.  Luckily, in the struggle I found a couple of helpful things to do to make it easier.  I hope to post soon with more about that.  But however it is managed, having all the pics in the same orientation made the book come together very quickly.
  3. I wrote the story right on the pictures before I even printed them.  I used Picasa (a free program from Google) but lots of programs have a text tool.  I chose a cute font and added all my text in white over the darkest corner of the photo.  I only wrote on 23 of the photos, since a lot of them were just fun pics of the kids playing.  I included a couple of stories - like Sammy's fear of the sand - by using brief comments over a couple of photos (see below). 
  4. I printed the photos with a white border to add a double-matted look with a single matting. I love my Costco's print lab - cheap, fast and good quality (not all Costco's calibrate their printers as often... you'll have to check out yours) and the white border doesn't add to the $.13/print cost.
  5. I used nothing but plain black cardstock and a ribbon for the book.  I cut 8.5x11" cardstock into 5.5x6.5 pieces, getting two out of each sheet.  I scored each sheet just short of 1" from the edge, glued photos front and back, punched two holes and tied the whole lot together with a ribbon.  It took less than an hour, with interruptions from Sammy, to put it together. 
Didn't it turn out pretty?  One thing, though, it isn't the most robust.  It's just cardstock so it won't last forever.  I could easily make it tougher by adding some chipboard covers but I'm ok with it as it is - it's fun and most of all, it's DONE!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Port Aransas

(click on photos for larger images)

Every year we head to the Texas Gulf coast for a long weekend.  I seem to have yearly posts on the trip (although we've been going many more years than I've been blogging!) and it's fun to look back. I was shocked, however, to realize how easily Sammy took to the sand and the water the past couple of years because this year, from the very first step off the end of the boardwalk, he had an absolute phobia of sand.

Yes, sand.  Terrified, I tell you. 

As you can imagine, it isn't so easy to avoid sand at the beach!  We never figured out what the problem was and he never got past it.  He was convinced that the sand was scary in some way.  It was a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy because his instinct was to try to wipe the horrific substance off the bottom of his foot on the inside of the other leg... and that is exactly where he has the most trouble with his eczema.  It's not surprising that salty sand is really painful on eczema-cracked skin.  But even when he seemed to be able to accept that no rattlesnake or sand crab was going to get him, and the sand wouldn't hurt if he didn't rub it into his wounds, he was still frightened!

James went to town and bought Sammy some water shoes that encased his feet more than his little flip-flops and they helped... but they didn't fix the problem.  He wanted to be carried from the boardwalk to a chaise lounge, where he would sit on his platform and lean over to dig in the sand with a shovel.  He seemed to have a good time and was mostly happy doing that.  Occasionally he would venture onto the hard-packed sand near the water but never, never onto the softer sand farther from the shore.  We really tried to talk him into it, coax him along, insist that we weren't carrying him... but he was frozen with fear and screaming in terror.  And then he would end up grinding the sand into the already bleeding skin from the last time and we had to scoop him up and go wash him off in fresh water... so it ended up seeming just not worth it.

I showed Sammy pictures of last year when he played in the sand with no problem.  He says he's going to be done with being scared of the sand next year.  Even with the strange sand-o-phobia we had a great time overall!  The weather was beautiful.  Two days were sunny and hot and two days had some rain and a lovely little fall chill, though still plenty of time to be on the beach. 

I've been playing around with some of the images I liked from the trip, so I thought I'd share those.  (As always, click on the images to see them bigger.)

[If you are interested in the post processing done on these photos, check out Pioneer Woman's FREE photoshop/elements actions.  Those are what I used and they are really fun!]

Saturday, October 01, 2011

These Days: Sammy

These days Sammy is full of personality. He wants to (in this order): play baseball, go to school, do helper jobs. He talks about being a baseball player ALL the time! His belt is like a baseball player, his shoes are like a baseball player, he needs to carry his bat (foam, thank goodness), he wants his daddy to play baseball with him, he was Zack to help him hit the baseball off the tee... et cetera! He's getting pretty good at connecting with the ball on the tee. He then takes great pleasure in flinging down the bat and racing around the far tree while Zack shouts, "Home run, Sammy, HOME RUN!"

He is also going to "Ducks Class", the name of his little class at his pre-school. He's pretty disgruntled that he doesn't get to go every day. If I say something like, "Oh, you are a cutie-pie!" He says, "No.  I am not a cutie-pie.  I am a cutie--pie DUCK!"  In lieu of Ducks class every day, Sammy would be glad to go to Zack's school every day - either to pick him up or to help in the classroom like we did last year. Since we don't get to help in the classroom in the same way (we do go help in the library once every two weeks and I'm about to start helping with something while Sammy's at school), he would settle for picking Zack up every day. He wants to bring either his cowboy dressup outfit or his phone or his Elmo with him.  I don't know if he doesn't want to give them up right then or if he likes all the attention he gets from the other moms!  Since carpool is taking care of Zack's school pickup for us two or three days each week, he keeps finding himself disappointed, which he makes sure to show by drooping his head and shoulders, putting on his saddest face and swinging his arms loose in a full-body display of moping.

We've realized we let those adorable, personality-full, little faces he puts on keep us from following through on consequences like we mean to! It doesn't take much in the consequence department - a quick break in a chair, a removal of some item - but sometimes he seems so heartbroken that it's easy to believe he must already be corrected enough. Think he's playing us? Ha. We're going to refocus on positive, consistent disciple (mostly from this book)... and try not to be such suckers for those expressions!

One thing I'm loving about right now is that Sammy is so excited whenever I can think of some little helper job he can do around the house.  It almost always gets a positive response and a request for another helper job.