Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Husband's Wedding Vows



Today, is the last day of my Month of Love. I thought it would be nice to end with sharing my husband's Wedding Vows. You can find my Wedding Vows here.





I have so much to say but so little time. These Vows on this paper are my Promise to you, but I can never write how much you mean to me on a single piece of paper.

I decided to start with the first day we met. As I recall, we met at Raj and Erin's party at about 1:30 am and my pick-up line was I am "6'2, 220 pounds with a rocket laser arm." A line that I stole from a Peyton Manning commercial. Then, I proceeded to have a dance off to win a date with you. And, a few dates and dinners and many dance-offs, later...

I am standing here getting married to the most wonderful person I have ever met.

So, when I decided to writes these vows, I had a few things in mind. First, I though about what makes "us" us. And, I though about our differences. We may be the two most different people in the whole world.


You like Art, English, Reading, History
I like Business, Math and Finance

You like Ballets and Art Shows
I like Football

You like to walk
I like to sit

You like reading books
I like reading reading business proposals

I like Hot 99.5 and you hate it

You kinda like the Lion King
I think it's the best movie ever made

You are White
I am Brown

You are from Maryland
I am from Virginia

But, when I think of our differences, it really makes us closer. You have opened my eyes to so many things and I am so grateful for everything you have showed me. The most exciting part of our relationship is that our differences give us a chance to learn about one another and that every day, I know I will learn something new. I will never be bored because you are so passionate about life and you show it every moment.

Second, I thought about our similarities. And, I thought about how we love to cook and dance and then, I thought about our Core Values. That's what made me fall in love with you. Our Loyalty, our Compromise, Our Understanding, Our Hope, Our Forgiveness, Our Kindness, Our Open-ness, Our Laughter, Our Love and most importantly, our Friendship.

Friendship to me is one of the most important things that I have to offer you. Today, I stand here and let you know that you are my best friend for life. I want you to know that I promise to love you, I promise to take care of you, I promise to be a great partner and father. And, most importantly, I promise to be your friend. I could not be happier to marry my best friend. I love you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Love My Neti Pot...It's Just A Lot of Work Now

Ceramic neti pot; neti pots can also be made f...
Ceramic neti pot; neti pots can also be made from glass, metal, or plastic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It was 15 years ago when I first introduced to the Neti Pot. Whenever I got a cold, it came out. It's not the most pleasant activity but it helped me get through numerous colds and many months of sinus infections. When I was a Classroom Teacher, I picked up everything that went around and so my Neti Pot was in frequent use.

That was until I read an article last year, in Medical News Today about the two deaths due to brain-eating amoebas. The amoebas were introduced when the victims used tap water in their Neti Pots. Yikes.

I haven't had any bad colds or a severely stuffed up nose this Winter, so I haven't been tempted to use my Neti Pot. But, next time, I do, I will either boil my water before irrigating my sinuses (which makes getting it the proper temperature very tricky) or I will just skip it all together.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Can You See A Little Bear?" Inspiration for the New Bedroom




Here are some not-so-great photos of the book, "Can You See A Little Bear?" (which was the very first book to intrigue my daughter). We used this book as inspiration for her Big Girl Room.


 
 
 
Her favorite part of the two collages in her New Room are the two elephants, created lovingly by my very talented friend, Ed.
 
 
 
 




Here you can see the music instrument (trumpet, maybe?) that my Mama put in the smaller of the two collages.





 
 
 
Peacocks! Need I say more? I am totally in love with the Peacock Feather Wreath I found at Michael's.
 






 
 
Some banner inspiration, as well as the bird-cage. We hung up Nye-Nye's name-sake's bird-cage in the room. Why, yes...I do come from a family of hoarders. Sometimes, it comes in helpful!
 
 
 
 





The inspiration for the hot-air balloon in the larger of the 2 collages. My Mama did an excellent job creating her version of it.


 


 
Mama Bear's very cool flash-light. Somehow my Mama had a similar one in her basement (except that it doesn't glow and is red).
 
 
 
 

 


The inspiration behind my favorite part of the room...the Reading Nook Tent. It's not completely finished but soon...





 
 
Can't wait until the room is finished! It's already become our favorite place in the house.
 
 


 


Monday, February 25, 2013

Good Soups to Freeze. Hearty Lentil, Black Bean Soup with Smoked Paprika

Lentils
Lentils (Photo credit: Maggie Hoffman)
I have begun the process of starting to freeze extra food for when the new baby arrives. I've been trying out different soups that supposedly freeze well. Hearty Lentil and Black Bean Soup with Smoked Paprika is a vegetarian soup that has definitely passed the taste test. The recipe I used was from Cookin Canuck.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 4 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, divided (I just used some Vegan Bouillon Cubes and added some extra water)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (14 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan set over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 6 to 7 minutes.
    2. Add garlic, smoked paprika and bay leaves and saute for 30 seconds.
    3. Stir in diced tomatoes with juices, lentils, 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth and 3 cups water. Increase heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 25 to 35 minutes.
    4. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Transfer half of the lentil mixture, half of the black beans and 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth to the bowl of a blender or food processor. Pulse until combined, but not pureed. It should be a chunky texture.
    5. Pour the blender mixture back into the lentils in the saucepan, along with the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth and remaining black beans. Stir and reheat over medium heat. Stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
    This soup was very, very tasty. So much so that only a two cups actually got frozen. I'm definitely going to make several more batches to freeze.
     
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    Saturday, February 23, 2013

    A Collaborative Painting with My Toddler

     
     
    This is the second painting I have collaborated on with my 23-month-old. The first one was a triptych we made for Papa Bear's Christmas present. I am liking this one much more.
     
    We started with an old painting I had finished many years ago. I painted over parts of the painting with a gray paint that is being used in our Living Room. Then, Nye-Nye went to town with some permanent magic markers.
     
    I finished the piece on my Birthday by painting over it (with white) while following many of the lines my daughter had drawn.
     
    Papa Bear gave it two-thumbs up. He says it reminds him of Ganesh. I think it's a keeper.
     
     
    
    

    Friday, February 22, 2013

    Happy 23 Months, My Big Girl!



    My Dearest Darling,

    It is unbelievable that you are about to turn 2 years old. It has been awe-inspiring watch you grow into the independent, hysterically funny, imaginative, compassionate person that are you today.

    You have gotten better at sitting down with us at meal-town and insist upon feeding yourself with a fork and spoon. You will eat absolutely everything and are developing a taste for spicy Indian food. You eat whatever Mommy and Daddy are eating including unusual foods like quinoa, goat cheese, seaweed, Brussels Sprouts, brie. You get sad when you eat a soup that doesn't have any carrots in it it. We are so lucky that getting you to eat your vegetables is no problem (hopefully, this will continue).

    You remind us before every meal that we need to "jay-jay" or pray (your Dadi introduced you to doing "jay-jay" in front of their puja, a few months after you turned one and you've been going strong ever since).

    You drink water from a regular cup without spilling (most of the time).You love to tell me when are "thirsty" (although it sounds like you are saying "sushi" - sushi being one of the only foods, you haven't liked). You are still on a Milk Strike and haven't refused to take a sip of cow milk's since you were weaned from drinking it in a bottle, three months ago. You went from drinking 32 oz a day, to refusing even a sip. Stubborn? I think so. Luckily, you devour Greek Yogurt and cheese, so we don't have to worry about your calcium intake.



    Dada and Dadi are still visiting family in India and we miss them. When asked, you will tell us who you know that is Indian. "Daddy...Indian, Dadi...Indian, Dada...Indian, Kaka....Indian, Kaki...Indian, Sagar...Indian, Heena...Indian, Baby...Indian (pointing to herself). Mommy...not Indian (shaking her head)." We can't wait to see the beautiful clothes, Dadi will bring back for you from India.

    It is the flu season and you remind me to give you "Elderberry" every day; you love getting your daily spoonful. When anyone coughs you say "sick, germs." You watched a Curious George episode on germs and it left a serious impression on you.

    You spend 1-2 hours a day drawing with markers and pens in your own journal. When someone comes to the house, you have to point the paintings you made in your "Little Stars" class at the local Rec Center. You say "class" and "big kids" and proudly show off your Art-work.

    Life has been a little bit easier as you begin to speak clearer and have started speaking in simple, short sentences. Your working vocabulary is probably at 700-800 words, but you almost always repeat whatever new word someone says in front of you. We call you our Little Parrot.

    We listen to you talk about colors all the time, but you can't correctly identify them. First everything was green, then purple, then yellow and now it's pink.

    Almost every time, we walk down the stairs, you practice counting. You have been able to count to 15 correctly a few times, but not consistently. Your ability to sing the "ABC Song" has improved a lot, you almost have it.

    Legos continue to bring you much joy and now you adore playing with tinker-toys. You still do yoga several times a day, including your favorites: upward dog, downward dog with a lifted foot, butterfly, bridge. The latest development being your ability to do a sitting twist and tree!  We are constantly amazed at your ability to balance - I think it's time we get a balance beam.




    You spend several hours a day, immersed in imaginative play. Your babies get lots of love and play. And, now that you have a toy infant car seat, as well as a toy stroller, a baby bath-tub and bed, they are getting extra attention. The car seat was definitely worth the $6 spent at our local thrift store. Your babies also seem to enjoy sliding down the slide on your play-set in your Rumpus Room.

    You seem to understand about Mommy growing a new baby. One of your favorite books is "Baby, on the Way" by Dr. Sears. Aunt Mimi gave it to you for Christmas and you request it to be read to you at least once a day. You love giving Mommy's belly lots of hugs and kisses and love talking to your Sissy. We talk a lot about how babies cry a lot because they can't talk like you.

    In the health department, your right leg has straightened up quite a bit. Now, it's only your left leg that is stilled bowed. Your left foot still points inner-ward when you walk. You have an appointment in a few weeks to get another x-ray and see if there has been much improvement. We have until the Fall to determine whether you will need to get braces to straighten out your legs. Crossing our fingers that won't be necessary.

    You seem to have developed a mild case of eczema. Your Daddy has eczema, so it's not surprising that you have developed it. We have an appointment to get it checked out and make sure there is not a serious underlying cause. You have been eating more wheat over the past few months, so I wonder if you have a mild allergy. Besides those two issues, your health is wonderful. We are so very lucky.

    We adore our giggling, fierce Big Girl. You seem to have left the "Terrible Twos" behind and seem so much happier than before. Your laugh fills our hearts with such Joy and we are so very, very Blessed to have you in our lives.

    Know you are very, very loved,
    Mommy and Daddy

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

    We Love Post Discovery

     
     
     


     
     
     
     
     
     

     It is so exciting to finally have my own child to take to Port Discovery. If you haven't heard of this amazing children's museum in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, your family is missing out. Family Membership is a good deal, if you live in the area (a single visit costs $14 for ages 2 and up, as opposed to an $104 unlimited year pass for 2 children and 2 adults). Their current exhibition on Ancient Egypt is excellent, here is a video of our recent visit...
     
     
     

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    Sneak Peak of the New Bedroom

     
     
     
    Even though it's been 2 1/2 months since my family moved into our new house, not every room is finished being set-up. So, for my Birthday Party, I thought it would be helpful to get a few, creative friends together and finish one room. I chose Nye-Nye's room.
     
    We are transitioning Nye-Nye from co-sleeping with me in the Master Bedroom, to co-sleeping with Daddy in her own room. Her very first favorite book was "Can You See A Little Bear?" by James Mayhew and Jackie Morris. It was a lovely present from Auntie Julie and Nia.
     
    The book is set in a fantastical, magical world and is full of gorgeous illustrations. My Mother and friend, Ed, created two amazing collages from fabric, feathers and paper. When we move, we'll be able to take the collages with us, instead of painting a mural on the wall and having to leave it behind. An added bonus!
     
    There are still banners to be hung, the coat-rack to be painted, the reading nook tent to be placed in the corner, a peacock feather to be placed in the red hat, a new child's chair to be brought in and a full-length mirror to be hung. But, we are almost there!
     
    We re-purposed almost everything in the room, except for the peacock feather wreath I bought from Michael's for $22 and the crystal drawer knobs, I purchased for $12. I spent $18 on a bedspread, a blanket (that was turned into a pillow cover and part of the reading nook) and curtains from my local thrift store. The small child's bookcase was purchased from  a local auction for $3. My Sissy demonstrated mucho patience in painting the piece.
     
    A big thanks to Taryn, Elsye and Mikaela for making the banners!
     
    I am going to post photos from the book soon, so you can see what inspired this room. And, of course, many photos will be coming, once the room is entirely finished. Thanks again, for everyone's help!
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    Queen for the Day

     
     
     
     
     



     
     
    Today, I am Queen for the Day. Today, I turn 34.
    

    I grew up in a blended family of 6 kids, where Birthdays WERE A BIG DEAL; each Birthday was a time when every child in my family was made to feel extra special.

    How am I going to make myself feel extra special today?


    I am going to go for a swim.

    I am going to work on a painting.

    I am going to eat Cerignola olives.

    I am going to meditate.

    I am going to dance to J. Roddy Walston and The Business.

    I am going to try some Henna Belly Art on myself. *

    I am going to take some self-portraits. **

    I am going to go for a walk along the Potomac and look for driftwood. ***

    I am going to take a nap.

    I am going to eat some Alaskan Crab Legs.

    I am going to take a yoga class.

    I am going to do a Belly Cast with some help from my husband.


    Looking forward to a day full of lots of Self-Love!

    Many thanks to my Mama for doing the hard work of bringing me into this World in the middle of a Blizzard, 34 years ago. And, also many thanks to my Mama for watching my darling daughter, so I can spend the day savoring my favorite things.


    * I actually did this Sunday night. It was one of the things I really wanted to do this pregnancy and never got around to do during my first pregnancy.

    ** I already did this Monday afternoon. One of my intentions this go-around was to celebrate my body more by taking more photos.

    *** If the weather cooperates and it stops raining.

    Monday, February 18, 2013

    Cocoon Time Method Program. My Valentine's Day/Birthday Day Present.



    I am really looking forward to the present Papa Bear gave me for my Birthday/Valentine's Day. It's a teleseminar called Cocoon Time Method. It's a class that helps you prepare for a healing, restful, enjoyable post-partum time.

    Haven't I already gone through this once? What else do I need to learn?

    Yes, it's true this is my second pregnancy, but the first go-around was different. We were living with my in-laws and my mother-in-law had just retired, so she was home with me all day. We didn't have to worry about meals or cleaning the house. Every night, my in-laws took our daughter for an hour or two, so we could have some time together and rest.

    Now, we have our own home and an energetic toddler to boot!

    There was also the fact that my daughter spent the first 16 days of her life in the NICU, recovering from Meconium Aspiration Syndrome. The first two weeks (when my body was pretty banged up) were not spent at home. I wasn't prepared for how painful and how long my recovery took.

    This time around, I want to be more prepared.

    The Cocoon Time Method Teleseminar is broken down into four parts including: Building Your Nest, What to Eat During Cocoon Time, Support, Self-Care, & Self-Awareness, and Partnering through Parenthood.

    Each recorded coaching sessions includes numerous worksheets (including: a cookbook, a grocery list, ideas for help with food prep, checklists for emotional and physical self-care, checklists for essentials we'll want in our house, ways of clearing out "clutter," handouts about cultivating support during our Cocoon Time and ways to prepare the most important places in our house for a smooth transition).

    Laura Thompson Brady is a Pregnancy, Birthing, and Mama Wellness Coach and her "mission is to help every pregnant woman on the planet not only experience a powerfully peaceful birth but also enjoy a COCOON TIME that is defined by connection, support, rest, rejuvenation, recovery, bonding, time to grapple with what it means to be a Mom, and deeply felt love."

    Pregnant Mamas (especially first-time Mamas) often spent much of their pregnancy researching and planning their baby's nursery, trying to figure out all the things you need for a baby's first year and preparing for birth. Usually not a little time is spent learning how to take care of your newborn and creating a post-partum plan.

    The more rest and sleep a New Mama gets, the less likely she is to develop post-partum depression. I've been getting concerned about me developing post-partum depression because I have been feeling some mild feelings of depression this pregnancy. I want to do everything I can to prevent this from happening and am looking forward to getting lots of new ideas for my post-partum plan.

    I meant to post some information about the class BEFORE the Early-Bird special ended, but that didn't happen.  If you are interested, the program runs from February 26  to March 19, more information can be found here.

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    Finished Valentines and Two Videos






    The last batch of Valentines for 2013. Electrical Tape (what toddler doesn't love tape?) and tiny hearts cut from paint samples. I put the glue on the hearts and passed them to my daughter. She very carefully put the hearts on the cards (a good exercise for developing fine motor skills). I love the way these turned out. Below is a video of her first batch of cards.





    The second video is of our Valentine's Day Dinner. We ended up having an Ancient Ale Date. Papa Bear cooked for us using the book, The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life

    We had Osso Buko and some Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale. Amazing. Both were delicious. I'm not a beer drinker at all, but I had a few sips of the Ancient Ale and was mightily impressed.

    Papa Bear went to work extra-early, so he could come home in time for dinner at a reasonable hour. He had cooked the Osso Buko (mostly) the night before. So, he just popped it back in the oven for a few minutes to finish cooking when he came home.

    He then woke us up from our nap. He brought each of his girls a thoughtful card and an expensive bar of chocolate. I also got a lovely green single calla lily (it was the flower he brought on our first day). So sweet. (I can't wait until my joint Valentine's and Birthday Present, more on that later).

    When Nye-Nye and I came downstairs, Papa Bear already had some music playing and the table set. Nye-Nye, as usual, wanted to sit in a regular chair with no booster seat and be a big girl. All three of us devoured the Osso Buko, which Papa Bear had served over orzo.

    Things have been a little rough around here, so it was a really nice to be able to celebrate dinner a little with my two, Sweet Valentines. Thank you, Papa Bear. Hope you had a lovely Valentine's Day as well!

    P.S. If you don't eat meat, you may not want to look.


    Thursday, February 14, 2013

    Quick...Send Out A Valentine with Paperless Post

    paperless post
    paperless post (Photo credit: 'smil)
    Whoops. Time flies and you didn't get to send out the Valentines you wanted. What have I done in the past? Jumped over to Paperless Post and ogled all their pretty designs until I narrowed it down to a few pretties.

    I've been a huge fan of Paperless Post for several years, now. I loved their designs so much that I used them for my Wedding Invites and every other significant event since then.

    Once you create an address book, it's embarrassingly easy to send out cards. It's cheap, too. And, good for the Environment. You can even print them out, if someone REALLY wants a hard-copy.

    I like Paperless Post much better than Evite. My Inner-Print-maker loves how you can see the texture of the paper and the dizzying array of envelope liners. It's amazing the variety of designs, they now offer. They've come a long way in a few short years. Can you tell, I'm a fan?
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    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

    My Latest Project. Wool Diaper Covers.

     

    I can't knit. I barely know how to sew. But, I've been drawn to making some "wool diaper covers", also known an "wool soakers" before our second daughter arrives. I found this awesome tutorial.

    On Monday, Nye-Nye and I spent about 45 minutes touching hundreds of sweaters at our local thrift store, attempting to find sweaters made of 100% wool. Finding some appropriate sweaters took A LOT longer than I thought it would. I ended up spending about $3-4 on each sweater. Way better than $40+ on a wool diaper cover from a store. I love this idea!!!

    Last night, I washed and dried the sweaters in pillow-cases (to save our machines). It's amazing how much they've shrunk and felted up. My husband called it a "cool science project."

    I'll keep you updated, as my project progresses. My plan is to make at least one of them by the end of the month. I can't wait!

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    I Started to Feel Sick, So I....

    Elderberry Wine
    Elderberry Wine (Photo credit: Liamfm .)
     I woke up on Sunday with a little tickle in the back of my throat. My nose starting running ever so slightly and I started getting a tiny cough.

    I think it's so very important to be in touch with your body. And, one of the reasons is to be able to identify when you first start coming down with a cold. I can't tell you how many times I have been able to stop a cold in it's tracks because I immediately went into action.

    What did I do Sunday?



    I started drinking ginger tea.

    I took some probiotics.

    Acupuncture. (the soon, the better...check out The People's Organization of Community Acupuncture for an Community Clinic near you). If acupuncture isn't an option, why not try some acupressure? I had a cough, so I targeted Lu 5, St 40, as well as the usual points of LI 11, St 36, Lu 7 and Liv 3.

    Lots and lots of water. Every hour or two, I filled up a Mason Jar most of the way full and added 2 teaspoons of Elderberry Syrup and a teaspoon of my home-made Echinacea Root Tincture.


    Was is a lot of effort? Yes, but getting sick is even more work. I continued drinking lots of water with Elderberry and Echinacea on Monday. And, today I feel fine.


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    Friday, February 8, 2013

    This Year's Valentines. 2013.



    I am happy with how my daughter's Valentines turned out this year. The home-made paint I made dried quickly and ended up having a little bit of shimmer to it. This paint didn't flake off and crumble like last year's straight cornstarch and water recipe. 

    Nye-Nye had a blast gluing the hearts to the folded cards and then adding with magic markers some illustrations of cats, flowers, fish and tractors to the cards.

    I used a recipe I found here.

    2 tablespoons of clear vinegar (we were out, so I just used wine vinegar and it was fine)
    2 tablespoons of baking soda
    1 tablespoon of cornstarch
    1 teaspoon of corn syrup (luckily, we were at my Mama's house and she had some in her pantry)
    food coloring

    I put all of the ingredients (except the food dye) in separate yogurt containers. Nye-Nye dumped the vinegar and then the baking soda directly into the blender. We had fun watching it fizz.

    Then, she added the cornstarch and the corn syrup and turned on the blender when I gave the okay. She did an excellent job making sure it was thoroughly blended together. I poured the paint into some yogurt containers and then added the food coloring. We ended up with two shades of red.

    I dumped the red paint onto paper plates and let her go to town with the potato stamps.

    Before, preparing the ingredients, I had spent less than 10 minutes carving out heart stamps from some sprouting potatoes my Mama had on hand.

    The next day, I spent 30 minutes cutting out the hearts from the paper my daughter had stamped (she's still learning the concept of how to stamp and not just smear the paint). My Mama cut down some Scrap-booking paper to size and folded them into cards, while I cut.

    I put some Tacky Glue into a pie plate and called over my kiddo. I showed her how to put glue on the back of the heart and then I let her put the heart wherever she wanted to on the card. She had loads of fun with this part (especially peeling off the glue from her fingers). I only moved the hearts, if they were hanging off the page and were not going to fit in the envelope.

    After the cards dried, I gave her a marker to add some "details" to each card. I also showed her where to "sign her name" in the inside of the card. My Mother said I was working her too hard. I think she was fine.

    I'll post a video of the final products on Valentine's Day. Here is a video of my Mother showing Nye-Nye how to stamp the paper...

    


    

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

    A Fun Valentine Date for the History Buff

    Phrygian Bronze Pots
    Phrygian Bronze Pots (Photo credit: voyageAnatolia.blogspot.com)
     I'll admit it....I'm a bit of a history nerd. Always have been one, always will be one.

    The costume box at my childhood home was in constant use...my favorite thing to do as a child was to dress up as a famous person and attempt to re-live their lives. I often found interesting people while flipping through our Encyclopedia. Remember those?

    If you are a bit of a history nerd too....then I have the perfect cheap date night.

    How about drinking some beer from a 9,000 year-old recipe? Dogfish Head has been brewing beer from some seriously old recipes for over a decade now. Their first foray into the world of "Ancient Ales" began when the company teamed up with a molecular archeologist to recreate what was drank at the funeral of King Midas.

    When that proved to be a success, they moved onto ancient China (that's where the 9,000 year-old recipe comes into play).

    My husband is the beer drinker in the family but even I got excited when I read about Theobroma. Chocolate???? Yes, please. (Check out the man behind the science).

    So, what has that got to do with a "cheap Valentine date night?" My idea is to spend an evening preparing and eating a meal around whatever historic brew catches your eye.

    How fun would it be to do a little research and pair an ancient ale with an ancient meal? Seriously fun.

    Last Valentine's Day... Papa Bear and I drank Midas Touch while devouring a lamb and lentil stew (supposedly that was the meal consumed by all the mourners at King Mida's tomb). We ate the stew and some naan (also believed to have been eaten at the funeral feast).

    The meal was a success! The beer was good (I'm not even a beer drinker) and the meal went perfectly with our beverage of choice.

    We had such a blast, we'll planning on doing it again this Valentine's Day. This time we are thinking of going Italian with "Dogfish's latest Ancient Ale " Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale. Italy isn't just about the wines. I'll have a sip or two and tell you what I think.


    Here are some of my ideas of excellent beer and meal combos...


    Theobroma would work well with turkey and mole verde (and a honeyed yucca dessert).


    Sah'tea would be nice with some pea soup, some Finnish meatballs and rye bread (and pancakes with jam for dessert).


    Chateau Jiahu could be paired with any of these recipes.


    The possibilities are endless. It's also a fun family night (no need to let adults have all the fun... although, obviously, the adults would be the ones partaking in the inspiration behind the meal). Find some music and games to play (maybe even a costume or two, if your kids enjoy dressing up) and you are good to go...

    Do any of those meals sound good to you?

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    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Making Valentines With An Older Baby







    This was the first real Art Project I attempted with my daughter. (She was 11 months old at the time). She painted hearts that I had cut out of some of my old prints and taped to small pieces of card-board.

    I use the word "painted" lightly. Mostly, she had fun dumping the bowls all over herself and the card-board. It was an awesome sensory experience for her.




    I made the paint out of corn starch, water and food dye, which meant is was safe for her to put in her mouth. Just make sure you stir cold water and cornstarch vigourously together immediately to prevent lumps. I got the recipe from First Art : Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos




    When the paint dried it cracked and crumbled a lot on the paper and fell off in spots. I ended up making copies of the original hearts and sent those out instead.

    Doing this project in the bath-tub is key. It makes clean-up, so much easier! Enjoy!







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