Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paige the Pet Owner

Who'd have thought that winning three fish at a carnival would result in 2 hours of research on tanks and $100 worth of gear? When we teach about goldfish at school - yes, its part of our kinder science curriculum - they arm us with a bunch of fish and a small plastic rectangular container!

Anyway, Miss Paige has a new pet. Three of them actually - Penelope, Olivia and Grace. Their tank is a bit of an eyesore in my lovely kitchen, but Miss P is sure loving them! (And they are quite soothing to watch)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New book - Peas and Thank You!

Just got new healthy cookbook - Peas and Thank You by blogger Sarah Matheny. Love it! It is a vegan cookbook, and while I'm not vegan, there are lots of yummy looking things I can't wait to make. I was reading through the breakfast section alone last night and it was never-ending. So many reci-peas! : ) What I also loved with this cookbook, is that the author has a cute story/anecdote with most of the entries. She is clearly a blogger, and a witty one at that. If you have kids, and/or are trying to eat healthy, check it out!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Meal-Time Monday - Dessert!

While watching the Next Food Network Star Cupcake challenge, Paige and I decided we had to have a little dessert. So during the commercial, P put on her own show and made a semi-original creation - Around the House Ice Cream.

Scoop of vanilla
and then your favorite chocolate or crunchy snacks you have 'around'
we used:

Annie's Natural Chocolate Chip Bunny Grahams
Chocolate chips
Dash of Chocolate Sauce

It was delicious!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

latest adventures...

We've had a nice two weeks around here...I promise you I love my job, but the idea of going back to the day in/day out, all-consuming hard work of teaching is enough to make you want to completely ignore the calendar and Target Back to School flyers!

First, a little bit of grown-up fun. Two weeks ago, Ed and I hit his hero Eddie Vedder's concert in Oakland. I am more of a 'pop' girl myself (our last show was Black Eyed Peas!) but the concert was AWESOME! Btw, I am not wearing a white bra, I promise you. I don't know what that is under my shirt. This is one of those days Paige and I raced back from somewhere (the pool?) and I quickly freshened up before taking P to Grandma's b4 'date night.' Everyone there was sporting the 90's grunge look anyway!
Gilroy Gardens! Paige and I got together with our besties for an amusement park day later in the week.
The kids loved going on all the rides without an adult, and sitting at their own table at lunch, etc.

What's this weird rainbow thing, you say? Last week Paige spent a few days at day camp with school friends. Cooking day was fun, Adventure day was 'weird' (she was mortified because it was more of a superhero day, where the kids had to go one at a time through an obstacle course with everyone watching, followed by a rating?) Craft day, however, was a HUGE two thumbs up. Apparently, colored duct tape crafts are all the rage! I didn't take pictures of any of Paige's crafts - I should - she made a purse and a wallet, and then later some accessories for Doggie. You can find all kinds of pictures online of teens who have made prom dresses out of duct tape, people who have made shoes out of it, etc. One of Paige's friends bamboozled her mom into buying a whole bunch of the stuff, and the girls have been making additional pieces whenever they can. I spent as much time as I could at school working on ORGANIZATION, the usual lack of which is what drives me crazy all year!

And finally, we just got back from a weekend in Santa Rosa, visiting sister & brother-in-law and cousins. (Do you like Ed's hand trying to tilt nephew's head toward the camera?) The kids had great fun swimming, practicing soccer skills, visiting this cool park featuring a carousel, bounce house, etc., and just generally being crazy.
During some downtime, I finished reading Friendship Bread, which was nice, and I now have a little reading secret...I am currently wrapped up in a Danielle Steele book. 44 Charles Street. D.S. repeats things over and over, but I do find a book of hers with a plot I like every once in a while. A friend and I were talking the other night about what drives us more to read a book: the amazing writing, or the plot/topic. You ideally want BOTH. If I had to pick one though, I can forgive some writing quirks if the plot/characters or topic is one that I am interested in. What about you?

Speaking of questionable entertainment, I've been crazy for Real Housewives of New Jersey and can't wait to watch tonight's tivo'd episode! I've also recorded the first two episodes of Big Rich Texas, and am planning to check that out. Are you watching? What do you think?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fit by 40!

I love this commercial! Have you seen it? This partly inspired my fit by 4o campaign!

Here's the gist....I'll be 40 next June and ever since my birthday one month ago, I've been mentally preparing myself. I think the only way I'll be able to stomach leaving my 30's is to feel like I'm in my best shape ever! What better way to feel better about your age than to defy it by being more energetic and toned than before?

I am also inspired by a girlfriend who turned 40 last Fall and ran 4 10k's to prepare. She feels great and is in amazing shape!

I love to plan, and as I started to 'hatch' this one, I asked myself what it means to be fit. For me, I decided that being fit means spending lots of time being active, eating well, taking care of yourself, and maintaining a healthy body.

Next post - how will I achieve this!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why I love blogging - KIT

Lately I've been thinking about all the reasons I love reading blogs. Here's one -

About four years ago, a teacher friend showed me a blog written by a parent at our school. At that time I think I had just started stumbling on blogs and had one I was addicted to. I was so impressed by this woman's photography and the bells and whistles on her blog. I started to read it here and there, and then comment. Finally I was courageous enough to talk to the gal in person!

I eventually started my own blog and Hilary has been a great source of comments. After meeting via blog we started a 'real life' friendship. I could find her most days on the kindergarten playground, aka 'the hangout' after school chatting with the other moms. I'd run over there from my classroom sometimes for a quick catch-up, or laugh with her at a committee meeting or sit next to her at a school event.

A few weeks ago, her family started a new adventure, moving to AZ. I will miss her when school starts (now it feels like we are just all on vacation), but through her faithful blogging, I feel like I can still keep actively in touch.

And that is one reason I love blogging. The stories, photos, and videos that make you feel almost like you are there. Has blogging helped you stay in touch with a friend?

Monday, July 18, 2011

MealTime Monday - Balsamic Steak

It's been awhile since I've got my recipe on. This steak is quick, easy, and yummy - my three requirements. : )

(This recipe feeds four. The amounts can definitely be tweaked to your liking!)

You need:

4 6-oz beef eye round steaks
kosher salt and pepper
3 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 clove garlic sliced
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

First, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and swirl in some butter. Season the steaks with salt, pepper, and sugar. Sear the steaks in the skillet for about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with tin foil.

Next, reduce the heat to medium and add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds with a teaspoon of sugar. Then add the sun-dried tomatoes and vinegar. Cook for a minute. Then, add the chicken broth and let it cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, letting it all come together.

Finally, add the steaks back on to the skillet with the sun dried tomato mixture. Layer the tomatoes on top of the steaks and let the flavors come together for a minute. Then remove from skillet and thinly slice onto plates, pouring some remaining sauce over each.

Goes well with corn, salad or both!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Birthday Party Planning

Miss Paige will turn 7 near the end of August. It is always a hectic time as that is when Ed and I are back teaching (she was born on the first day of school 7 years ago!), and she has accumulated many friends and cousins since then. Two of those good friends and cousins have birthdays within days of her. So in between scheduling challenges there are also time, space, and money dilemmas. We have gone the 'throw money at the problem' route and had her party at cool play places, like a cooking gig at Cucina Bambini, and we've had creative home parties, like her Olivia-themed party last year. I am finding it is harder to manage a party that doesn't leave any crucial person out, keeps kids engaged, and isn't super expensive.

This year we were thinking of a pool party at our beloved cabana club, but there is an issue of the guest list getting crazy with possibly lots of parents needing/wanting to stay for safety (which might be a good idea anyway), and the weather being questionable even in August (this week the high has been like 75 degrees! and it has been quite overcast). We also considered a detective party, which would be fun and doable (now that we have finally trimmed the guest list in half - got it down to 10 children including P, which coincidentally is the same number we got it down to last year), however it would require a lot of work from yours truly. I love this kind of creativity, however my house and classroom are also calling for a lot of my attention. I am such a perfectionist with stuff like this, I would spend tons of time on it.

This brings us to option 3: A build a bear party. This was Paige's first choice actually. I kind of nixed it, as I considered this more of a 'shopping' experience, rather than a play with friends 'bonding' experience. However, it is starting to look better. It means no work for us; parents could easily drop off and pick up their kiddos at the mall location. I'm sure the kids would love it, and stuffed animals are her favorite thing. P and I have been watching build-a-bear parties on youtube, etc. for research, and they do look kind of fun, and the site has gotten some good reviews. I'm thinking we could do build-a-bear, then either CPK afterward and/or Coldstone, both of which are next door. It gets pricey, but then again, no money is spent on decorations, no time is spent on cleaning (before and after) or set-up, etc.,etc. I've been looking like crazy for coupons for Build a Bear parties and am coming up short. Anyone been to one of these parties and have any feedback??

Monday, July 11, 2011

what we've been up to...

I have been a lazy blogger! I've done that thing where I have ideas, inspirations, and intentions to post, but by the time I sit down at the computer, all is lost. (I have also been trying to limit computer time.) I have been keeping up with everyone else's blogs though. THAT is rarely a problem. : )

Anyhwoo, last week Miss P had four, count 'em, four playdates in four days. She was in heaven. Here she is bowling for the first time. Have your kids done bumper bowling? It's kind of a blast. Paige is reuniting with her best friend from preschool here.

Speaking of Paige, I've been enjoying her increased maturity as she quickly approaches 7. One of our projects last week was to attack her messy room, and come up with a system for re-organizing it, and cleaning easily. Here's a before shot.

We spent a big chunk of time last Wednesday working on nooks and crannies of this room, and worked on the closet Friday. Paige loved organizing! She kept saying, 'this is fun!' In the past, she has been overwhelmed and thrown a fit. I guess now she is more developmentally ready for this kind of project. I taught her how to make her bed at the beginning of summer, and now she does it the moment she wakes up without fail. It's kind of funny, because a lot of her friends have systems, and checklists for their responsibilities and they earn prizes. She is dying for one of these charts. I'm thinking, why would I design a reward structure for something you're already doing? I'll do a post of more before and after pictures with our simple systems once we are done. We need to still do 'under the bed,' and some finishing touches. However, the room looks awesome right now!

In other news, we had a fun family weekend going to the beach for breakfast and fun with rocket shooters, a bike ride/picnic, tons of soccer, tons of swimming, and Ed hit a Giants game. We also had Ed's sister and husband over for dinner and game night last week, and I had a big catch up playdate with my college bestie. : )

I also have a fitness project in the works. What's going on with you?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Now at Target....

Naughty Betty stationary!

(I think school supplies are out now too!) : (

4th Festivities

4th of July weekend included a craft party to reunite our playgroup...
a night out at a wedding, having a car date with Ed, and getting to know his work friends a little bit better...

a time to practice swimming skills
and master jumping off the diving board...

a great opportunity to feel insecure at a party where I felt catapulted back into Jr. High....

A cool neighborhood parade...

MORE swimming, a showing of Cars 2 (so-so), and just a glimpse of fireworks.

I love holidays,but I find they often don't live up to expectations. I am happy to be be enjoying a mellow day today - reading for as long as I want, doing laundry, getting back into my workout routine, and psyching up to clean!