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Though I love and appreciate all that goes into making a gift look beautiful, as the years go by my desire to spend the time wrapping and the ability to turn the other cheek on the huge amount of waste generated from gift wrapping has decreased sharply.
Two years ago I suggested to my mom that making reusable fabric gift bags for my son's montessori schools annual holiday craft and bake sale would be a good idea. It was a good idea and many people(including me) purchased reusable gift bags. Again this year she made bags for the sale. I am happy to say that over half of our presents were in reusable gift bags this year. The gifts wrapped so quickly it hardly seemed fair that my gifts were wrapped. Thanks mom!
Sorry for the iphone pics. I didn't feel like going upstairs at the time I was wrapping and I wanted to snap a few before I forgot and
The rest of our gifts were wrapped in Nora's artwork. The easel in our dining room had been seeing quite a workout in the months leading up to the holidays and though Nora produced many paintings that we saved as examples of her work, the volume was simply too much to file away for posterity. One evening I picked up a pile of paintings headed for the trash and wished there was something more I could do with them...and it hit me - wrapping paper. Sure it would still end up in the garbage, but it was already on its way and it could have one more life before its trip to the landfill. My husband pointed out that we'd need the 2 year olds buy in, but I let her help wrap the first present and she was hooked and proud of her contribution. We also cut gift tags out of the stack of watercolor paintings laying around in the dining room.
I know I am not the first person to find gift wrap alternatives. I am just happy that I actually did it this year.
Sometimes things just come together. Your daughter moves out of her crib. You move a dresser and you end up with a big blank wall. You devise several ways to fill that space, but because it is your busy season you do nothing. Fast forward several weeks and you are at your mother in laws house and she brings out several boxes of books. There are old teaching books of hers, old young adult books of your husbands and old children's books of your father in law. You come home with a big box of books and a plan. Most of the books end up on various bookshelves in the house, but after a trip to home depot to get some prefinished crown molding and a few command picture hanging velcro strips you have this...
I love projects that come together easily.
Our kids' school doesn't currently have a space where the entire school and parents could gather inside for a holiday performance. Fortunately our local Barnes and Noble steps in and allows us to have our all school sing the same day as our bookfair. Honestly, everyone wins. The sing is a bit more low key compared to your typical school holiday show - and that seems to suit everyone just fine. Parents sing a long and fill in when the group wanders.... I snapped a few pictures even though I was way off to the side...
When we arrive we were not the first people there, however, none of the kids were yet up front. Ben and Nora led the way.
The then saw their friend Raya
The singing started out pretty well
then Nora's attention wandered a bit
okay, maybe more than a bit - the girl loves to sing,but i think the performance part was new enough to throw her off.
Everyone had fun and it is nice to see the parents come out to see their kids perform. This little bookfair is becoming one of my favorite school events.
Halloween this year sort of snuck up on us. Sure we went pumpkin picking a few weekends ago - but the squirrels and rot got to the pumpkins and we didn't replace and carve any this year.
However, we knew that Ben wanted to be a ghost and Nora wanted to be all sorts of things, mostly a pumpkin which I didn't manage to find a costume for or get motivated enough to make one in time.... in the end she loved her bee costume (so much so that she wanted to wear today) and she was darn cute.
Flying towards me...
We met up with friends (who did figure the pumpkin costume out) for trick or treating
Ben made it about half a block before logistical issues with his chosen costume became too frustrating. First we just peeled it back and he looked like some sort of bride then we took it off completely to reveal a back sweatsuit and he became a much happier trick or treating ninja.
They all had a great time and they said many cute/embarrassing things along the way.
Ben at a door : "I am five years old and I need a piece of candy"
Nora after leaving a door "He smiled at me!"
Nora after leaving the next several doors "S/he didn't smile at me!"- even though they most certainly did.
Nora "My bucket is soooooooo heavy" said over and over even after it was emptied of candy.
This year we went from their house to ours and so the loot was out on out dining room table.
After eating lots of candy we gave them glow sticks/necklaces and they had a in the dark dance party to They Might Be Giants - courtesy of DJ Ben. We all sat around and had beer and wine....
What a weekend! My kids seriously had the most action packed weekend they have had in quite a while.
While I was at a photo shoot Saturday morning Josh took the kids to the High Noon Saloon for a concert. They saw Gustafer Yellowgold and Nora both climbed up on a bar stool (where daddy emailed me a picture of our party girl) and all the kids (they were with the Butler-Broads) ran to sit in the front row. After a quick lunch and an even quicker nap it was off to miss Raya's birthday tea party birthday party at Bean Sprouts.
Blowing candle on her chocolate monster cake.
After the tea part was over Raya opened presents and the kids pulled one out to play. Many of the adults remembered playing Perfection - either fondly or by being scared by it. These kids seemed to enjoy it.
Sunday began with tasty Apple and Leek Quiche (which neither of the kids were into eating, oh well , more for the grown ups) and then we grabbed Colleen and Raya and went to Schuster's Playtime Farm. Every year since we started going when Ben was super small, there is something new. This year - pig races!. Those little piggies are pretty cute (I didn't get any pics though as I was holding ben up to see) we played picked pumpkins, manhandled little kittens, ate popcorn and turned our daughter into a little shivering popsicle.
We only had a moment to try to get this picture because we needed to get on the ride to the pumpkin patch. I though we would have a chance on the way out, but by then everyone was cold and hungry. Oh well. will have the get an updated pic of the three of hem another time.
This was nora before she got cold.
After a yummy Mexican food lunch and a quick nap (for Nora and Dad - ben played the new wii fit and I started to put away the garden after a hard frost last night), we went to the Barrymore Theater for the They Might Be Giants show. Ben has been waiting and listening to their new CD since it came out just a week or so ago. The highly anticipated show didn't disappoint. Ben intensely listened to the songs. He waited patiently through the songs that were not from the new CD and seemed entranced by those that were. Nora totally rocked both the bucket of popcorn that she begrudgingly shared with the rest fo the family and the dance moves that can only come from a two year olds body. She fully embraced the concert vibe between the last song and the encore by screaming her little head off jumping and clapping for more. She is a rocker at heart. I see a lot of concert going in her future. The show was great for everyone and I am so glad that we got our act together to get our tickets in advance (the show was sold out) and that jrh got the new CD right away. Ben sang himself to sleep tonight by belting out "I am a paleontologist" and "Meet the Elements" at the top of his lungs.... Nora was already fast asleep. Like I said, what a weekend!
And because it was yummy and i could not find an easy way to just link to the recipe. Here is the recipe for the quiche from Harmony Valley Farm
Apple and Leek Quiche Serves 4 as an entrée
Crust for 1 pie
½ a large leek, trimmed, washed and cut in narrow strips
2 Tbsp butter
3-4 large leaves of kale
1 tart apple, cored and sliced thinly
2 ounces of earthy, ﬂavorful hard cheese, shredded (try Gruyere or Pastureland’s
Thoten, Sogn, or Berne.)
½ cup sour cream
Teeny pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of black pepper
Salt to taste (depending on type of cheese used)
1.Bake pie dough into a 10-inch shell according to recipe directions. While pie
shell is baking, prep your veggies. Reduce oven temperature to 350º once the
crust is baked.
2.Sauté leeks in butter over very low heat until softened but not brown, about
3.Strip the stems from the kale leaves and boil in 1 cup of water about 5 min-
utes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain and cool. Chop into very ﬁ ne pieces
and squeeze dry.
4.Whisk together eggs, sour cream, and spices. Stir in the chopped kale.
5.Spread apple slices in an even layer in the bottom of the pie crust. Add a lay-
er of shredded cheese. Next, evenly spread the sautéed leeks. Carefully pour
in the egg mixture, tapping or shaking to allow it to evenly distribute. Sprinkle
remaining cheese on top.
6.Bake quiche 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until center of ﬁlling is puffed and set (center
will be slightly wobbly but not liquid). Cool on a rack at least 20 to 30 minutes
before serving (ﬁlling will continue to set as it cools). Serve warm or at room
Everything this weekend worked out differently than we planned. Seriously, at every turn plans were altered or canceled. The kids were under the weather spending their nights coughing and days oscillating between seeming fine and exhausted and cranky. Sunday we were going to go to an orchard to grab some apples. I decided to make the family stop for a photo shoot (occupational hazard for my family) and then we didn't make it to the orchard. It was cold and windy. We decided to go to the Northside farmers market for apples (no apples) and canceled our plan of tostadas at home in favor of Chinese buffet. The whole weekend was fine. Much lower key than our original plans which we probably all needed. it is just funny how sometimes nothing turns out like you plan.
Not even these pictures - of course i had an idea of what i wanted but what I get is always so much better than what I cook up in my head. I want to get a few of these printed really big for my office. I am thinking like 20x30 or 30x40. Gotta get through this week first....
A few from our mini shoot.
When you first move into a house you have a list of projects a mile long that will get done "right away". Then you realize that you have to unpack all the boxes and your kids want to wear clean clothes and eat food and you slowly start living life and some of the projects fall by the wayside. After a long winter we are always exctied to restart some of these projects. This year we decided to take a patch of grass just off our back dor and turn it into a herb and tomato garden (we get the rest of our veggies from our CSA).
Every project takes longer then you think it will. Digging up the grass and preparing the soil for a garden was backbreaking and caused us to scale back the size of the plot. Then jrh decided that he would install a drip irrigation/ automatic watering system. It took a while to get all of the right pieces and to test and trouble shoot. We got many of our plants (including seedings from the MCMS plant sale) in the ground qite late. However, looking at the garden today you could never tell. The watering system works perfectly. We have beautiful herb, tomato and sunflower plants in our garden. We have super happy bees and more tomatos and tomatillos than we know what to do with.....
The kids have watched the progress of the garden with great interest. Ben points out the many bees that are busy pollinating and nora says "I want madoe" every time we walk to and from the car - she eats at least 10 charry tomatoes a day - actually we all (except for ben) snack on the cherry tomatoes all day long.
The sunflowers are really great right now they really liven up a boring spot in our yard and today we talked about life cycles of the flower Ben and I chatted about whether it would be better to collect the sunflower seeds to plant net year or just to let them fall where they may to see how many survive.
For now I am not really wanting to think abotu the end of the sunflowers. It feels like summer just started, even though I look across the street and see the brillant orange leaves floating down reminding me of the long cold winter to come. Well at least it will give us the opportunity to plan next years outdoor home improvement projects!
Today was the first dayboth kids were in school - the first day for returning kids was yesterday. Nora was very excited and Ben seemed thrilled to be taking his sister into his class.
Here are some pictures from this morning
Nora requested pigtails this morning (they were not in at hte end of the day!)
No big girl gets on the school bus pics for my kids so we have gets in the dad bus - a big wave goodbye and theywere off to school for the day.
Nora had a great day. She is learning how to receive lessons and was very excited about everything. I am so glad that her brother and our best friends child are in the classrooms with her - I am sure that makes the transition easier for her. But honestly she seems really ready and I am so happy for her. She played with her lunch box for two hours after school - setting up and pretending to eat lunch the way they did in class. She told me today that she was a "super big girl" Yes Nora you are!