Finger Painting Father’s Day Project

With Father’s Day coming up, Abby and I decided to get creative this morning and make a present for my husband.  He doesn’t buy new clothes very often, so we had already bought him a shirt, but we wanted to give him something homemade as well.  We had to be a little sneaky and work on it while he was occupied, as it is Sunday and he was home with us.

I looked at several cute ideas on Pinterest, but several of the ideas required items I did not have.  I wanted to try to use supplies we already had at home if possible. 

Abby loves to finger paint, so we got out a piece of 8 x 10 construction paper and acrylic paint.  We decided to use different shades of green, which is my husband’s favorite color.  I draped her high chair and the table in plastic and placed an old towel on the floor.  At first she daintily stuck her index finger in the paint and made polka dots on the paper like she was afraid to get dirty, but eventually she got into it.

Abby’s finished painting, below.

After the paint dried we added some leftover colored letters from Hobby Lobby that I had used for another project.  The letters are a tad crooked and not quite evenly spaced, but we had fun.  She is learning her alphabet so we had to review all the letters several times and she was very picky about what colors we used.

Lastly, I framed the painting with a black 8 x 10 frame.  I could not find an empty frame in storage so I ended up buying a $2.00 frame at Walmart.

Abby is pretty proud and excited to give her picture to Daddy!

Are you making any projects for Father’s Day?  I would love to hear about them!

Being a Nerd and Owning It, or Just Be Yourself 


I was a super nerdy kid.  I was never interested in sports.  I was involved in Girl Scouts from first through tenth grade.  I played three different musical instruments in the school band and participated in our church handbell choir for almost ten years.  From first grade on I wore glasses.  In the early years I was not particularly careful with them, so I was prone to breaking my glasses; I remember having a couple pairs held together with tape until I was able to get a replacement.  My mom encouraged reading early and I excelled at reading.  In second grade I could read at a fifth grade reading level, and the older I got the farther ahead of my classmates I read.  I remember once during library time I wanted to check out a copy of a children’s version of Moby Dick, but the school librarian didn’t think I should check it out because she believed it was above my level of reading and comprehension.  She quizzed me in front of the other students and I was able to take the book home.  My voracious appetite for books only grew as I grew older. I was lucky to have several adults who recommended or gave me books to read that expanded my horizons.

In elementary school I discovered the Star Trek and Star Wars movies.  In the fifth grade I began to beg my mother to let me stay up past my normal bedtime to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation on TV at 9:00 p.m.  I was made fun of for my glasses.  I was made fun of because I liked to read at recess rather than playing dodgeball or some other game I wasn’t interested in or good at.

When I was in middle school I became obsessed with reading science fiction and fantasy novels.  I devoured The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  Of course, in middle school there is a change in school social structure.  Unlike elementary school where everyone is friends, middle school becomes divided into different groups and cliques form.  I always felt as if I didn’t really belong in a certain group and tried to hide my nerdiness, to no avail. My haircut, the hopelessly uncool clothes my mother bought, and my ginormous glasses all branded me as a nerd.  I attended a small school and never had a group of friends that shared my interests.  Recently when my husband and I watched Stranger Things on Netflix I thought,  “Wow, that’s the group of friends that I should have had as a kid!”

During my high school years I still felt like a nerd.  I got all A’s and was the editor of the school newspaper for a year.  I participated in the Academic Contest with other school students in our school’s League. I was a member of the Scholar’s Bowl and the National Honor Society.  I tried harder to be cool and hide my nerdy interests so that I would fit in, but I never really did.  I often felt ashamed that I was so “weird,” as other kids called it.  I never dressed right, never played sports,  never had the right car, the right hairstyle, the right interests, the right music, and whatever else was or was trying to be, have, or do.

After high school I took a semester off and traveled.  When went to college I slacked off my first two semesters and did not do well.  I had a somewhat late rebellious phase and was determined to not be the dorky person I had always been.  I lived a much more carefree and bohemian lifestyle for quite a long time, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.  I remember having an epiphany at a Dead concert at Red Rocks.  I was having a conversation with an older couple who had followed the Dead for years.  They were living the lifestyle they loved.  They were doing what they loved.  They weren’t trying to be something other than what they were.  They were happy.

I had never lost my love for all things sci-fi, superhero, or fantasy.  I am a huge Doctor Who fan.  I love graphic novels and am chomping at the bit to read The Walking Dead Compendium 3, which I received for my birthday but haven’t started yet.  I am dying to watch the new Wonder Woman movie.  I could sit down and discuss at length why the newest Star Trek movies totally suck and why the newest Star Wars movies are fantastic.  

My husband and I have attended three Comic-Cons together.  They have been some of the most fun experiences of my life.  There were so many people there that were having the time of their life, surrounded by so many encouraging people who shared so many of the same interests, some of whom had dressed up as their favorite characters, not caring a bit what the rest of the world thought. 

I am tired of trying to fit in to someone else’s mold, of trying to be someone else’s ideal.  I don’t care if I wear more band or TV show themed T-shirts than LulaRoe leggings or skinny jeans.  I am happy with who I am, nerdiness and all.  I have never been more comfortable in my own skin.  I no longer care to change who and what I am to make others like me; if they don’t, it’s not my problem.  Love yourself.  Be who you are and own it.  It’s the only way to be.

Five Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom

  1. There is a little person who loves me just as I am, fiercely,fully, and without reservation.
  2.  People always say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I look at raising a child as my chance to change the world, my chance to make it better by raising a good, kind, caring, conscientious human being.
  3. I get to watch her learn and grow and discover the world.  It is incredible to see.
  4.  She can always make me smile, no matter how sick or tired or sad I am.  
  5.  She makes me want to be a better person and strive to be better than I am.

Mom’s Marvelous Carrot Cake 

I love my mom’s carrot cake.  It literally is the best carrot cake I have ever tasted.

I am very picky when it comes to carrot cake.  I remember the first time I ever tried carrot cake: I was probably six or seven and my aunt brought out a cake after supper.  I was so excited that we were going to eat cake- then I took a bite and was immediately disappointed.  It was dry and had stringy carrots and my mom made me be polite and eat it all anyway.  I tried carrot cake other times as I got older, but never liked any until finally, Mom convinced me to try hers.  I still haven’t found one that compares.

I made sure to copy my mom’s recipe so I could share it with you.

Ingredients 

Cake:

  • 2 c flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c oil
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp.baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c grated carrots (I prefer finely chopped in the food processor, rather than grated)
  • 1 c or 1 medium can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 c golden raisins
  • Optional: 1/2 c finely chopped walnuts 

Icing:

  • 1/2 c softened butter
  • 2 8 oz blocks of softened cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp cream
  • 3 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
  • In a large mixing bowl mix the sugar, eggs, and oil.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients into the large bowl containing the wet ingredients. Mix well.
  • Add the carrots, pineapple, and raisins. Mix well.
  • Divide the batter into the pans.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of each pan comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool and gently remove them from the pans. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  • With a mixer mix together all the ingredients except the cream and powdered sugar.
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar (This is where I usually make a huge mess)
  • Add the cream, a little at a time until the icing is as soft or firm as you prefer.
  • Place the first cake on a cake plate or in a cake keeper.
  • Frost the cake on all sides and place the other cake on top, then frost it. 
  • Gently press the walnut pieces into the sides of the iced cake.

Store in the refrigerator.  The cake is even better the next day.


The first slice of cake with a side of ice cream. Yum!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

An Early Birthday Dinner: Swiss Steak

Photo: Annie Spray/Unsplash

I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it before, but I have the best parents ever. They always do so much for me and I appreciate them very much. 
Saturday we drove almost an hour to my parents’ house to celebrate my birthday a few days early.   

My photographer husband helped my dad photograph items belonging to my grandparents’ estate in order to begin to sell some of it.  They were busy most of the day.

My mom and I played with Abby and cooked while the men were occupied.

My mom made a special birthday supper of swiss steak with mashed potatoes and cream cheese corn.  I requested this, as this meal has long been a favorite of mine; my grandmother used to make it often when we would come over for a Sunday lunch.  I have many wonderful memories of eating swiss steak off of her octagon shaped pewter plates with my family gathered around the table.  My mom’s swiss steak was just as delicious as I remembered it to be.  In fact, it almost made my father cry because it tasted so much like his mother’s.

For dessert, my mom made her incredible carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  I was very full from supper, but somehow managed to stuff myself further with cake.  

Abby excitedly helped me unwrap my birthday gifts.  I received some wonderfully soft pajama sets and a pretty kitchen utensil cannister designed by Pioneer Woman.

My mother made me take home the leftover cake, so I will be enjoying it for days to come.  I will post my mom’s cake recipe and photos of the cake tomorrow. 

I apologize that I didn’t get any photos of the Swiss steak before it was devoured,  but I thought I would include the recipe for you.  My grandmother would always serve this dish with mashed potatoes and corn.

Grandma Julia’s Swiss Steak

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs round steak or minute steaks 
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 2 cups celery, chopped 
  • 2 cups catsup
  • 1 can Campbell’s tomato soup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Flour steaks and fry brown on both sides.
  • Put steak into a sauce pan or deep pan that has a lid. Place vegetables on top of steak.
  • Add catsup, soup, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Put in oven and simmer for about 2 hours.
  • Optional: instead of cooking in the oven you can cook using a slow cooker. If cooking on low setting let simmer for 6 hours. If cooking on high setting let simmer for 4 hours.
  • Enjoy!

A Page Out of the Toddler Rule Book

Photo: Samantha Sophia/Unsplash

The older my daughter gets, the more obvious it seems that toddlers operate by a different set of rules. 

I happened to find a page from the secret Toddler Rule Book and decided to share it with you.  Enjoy!

  1. No matter what delicious food you are given, always insist on eating what Mom and Dad are eating.
  2. Wherever Mom goes for alone time, find her and bug her until you have her full attention.
  3. Be incredibly quiet when being mischievous.
  4. Anytime adults are in a hurry or have a deadline, use this opportunity to move as slowly as possible and not acknowledge any instructions you are given.
  5. Even though you might be turning purple and shivering while sitting in cold bathwater, this is no excuse to get out of the bathtub.  Keep playing as long as possible!
  6. Even if every episode of Curious George has been watched 70 times, ask to watch it again.
  7. Even if you acted like a food was delicious yesterday, it is perfectly fair to act like it is the grossest thing on Earth today.
  8. Fake ouchies and boo-boos deserve as much sympathy and attention as real ones.  Band-aids are always necessary.
  9. Stickers must be placed on every available surface, from the kitchen table legs, to walls, or Mom’s butt when she isn’t looking.
  10. Stuff anything of an accommodating size into the toilet, clothes hamper, trash can, potato bin, and air vents.
  11. Shoes and socks must be removed during each car ride, no matter how short, especially when full of sand.
  12. Being naked at all times is better than wearing clothes. Always.
  13. It is lots of fun to walk around the house with Dad’s underwear around your neck on laundry day. No matter how many times Mom tries to take them off, find a way to put them back on.
  14. Cookies and marshmallows are acceptable for breakfast.
  15. Push any button that you see.  Remote controls, keyboards, and phones are particularly fun.
  16. Anytime Mom and dad are trying to have a conversation, immediately interrupt with, “Mom! Mom!” or “Dad! Dad!” and don’t stop until you have their full attention, even if you have nothing to say.

Fun in the Sand

The weather has been warm lately and the kids have been able to play outside at daycare.  Can you tell Abby had a fun time in the sandbox yesterday?  When I picked her up she looked like Pigpen from Peanuts.  She was covered in sand from head to toe.  There was even sand in her diaper.  I couldn’t believe how much sand was left in the bathtub after I gave her a bath last night.

The Joys of Being comfortable 

Photo: Andrew Branch/Unsplash

I hate wearing uncomfortable clothes and shoes.  Sometimes dressing up for work each day becomes unbearable by quitting time at five o’clock.  

I have always been the type to come home and instantly become as socially unacceptable as possible.  Ciao, shoes!  So long, bra!  Goodbye, pants!   The first thing I try to do is change into a more comfortable outfit right away.  

I can’t imagine living in a time where women were expected to wear incredibly restrictive undergarments like a corset or girdle.  Heck, I can’t even figure out why some women choose to wear Spanx or thong underwear on a daily basis.  I am super excited about Abby being fully weaned so that I can quit wearing nursing pads and finally sleep without a bra again, for a few months, anyway.

Lately with the body changes I have noticed due to pregnancy, I have put much more emphasis on comfort.  My pants have been fitting more snugly… my underwear have been feeling too tight… anything around my tummy feels uncomfortable.  

I feel as though I am in an awkward stage because I don’t really look different, other than maybe looking like I have gained a little weight.  I don’t have a baby bump.  Some of my clothes are feeling too small but I am not ready for maternity clothes yet.

I have pulled some of my old “fat pants” out of the closet.  They don’t fit well and are too baggy since they are too large, but they fit more loosely around my waist and feel better.  I’ve tried to wear longer and looser shirts, so hopefully the poor fit is not too noticeable.  I have been rolling down most of my yoga pants and workout pants lower around my hips to avoid feeling like they are too suffocating around my abdomen, even though they are not too tight.  I even went shopping for new underwear and what a difference it makes to not feel like you have a wedgie all the time!  

Everything seems so much better when feeling comfortable.  I can breathe easier.  It’s easier to relax and unwind.  I feel happier and less irritable.  Instead of focusing on how much my shoes are pinching my feet or how the underwires in my bra are digging into my sides, I  can more clearly focus on what’s going on around me.  

A more comfortable momma is probably a more fun momma.  Feeling comfortable is more accommodating to getting down on the floor and playing, chasing a kid around the house, or getting up and dancing when Abby comes and pulls me by the hand.  And that’s what really matters.

Cravings

I haven’t had too many cravings thus far in my pregnancy, but today I went to a clinic to train a couple associates and the manager made me try this delicious spicy dip she made.  It was so good, but after I left it left me craving the Spiderman Roll from my favorite sushi place.  

On my lunch break I didn’t have enough time to run all the way across town and then wait for a roll to be made so I went to our local Kroger store where they will make fresh sushi to order. It’s nowhere as good as from my favorite sushi restaurant, but it will do in a pinch.  I ordered a spicy crab roll (don’t worry, it’s cooked!)

Oh my gosh, it hits the spot. Yum!