Curly Crafty Mom: January 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Wrap Up Post

I saw a couple of other fellow bloggers with a January wrap up post, and I thought... hey, why not.

In January:

1. Took kids to see The Muppets on New Year's Day

2. I became divorced, after a year long custody battle.

3. I refinanced my house, into my sole name with a 3.87% rate. We are talking $120 a month I am saving on my new mortgage payment.

4. I started 1/2 marathon training on Jan. 22 (after a small break) and signed up for the Go! Half Marathon race. I ran a total of 36.51 miles in January.

5. I started the Superhero Photo class, my first photography class since college. And, my only digital photography class.

6. Nathan started full day Kindergarten.

7. I finally got caught up on all of my doctor appointments.

8. I kept with my resolution of reading my Daily Bible every day. I also finished two of the Sookie books, Dead to the World and Dead as a Doornail.

9. My blood pressure has been high the last year and I bought a monitor (it will arrive in another day) and I am going to monitor my sodium intake on Spark People. I am not sure if its the stress from the last year, but the doctor wants me to start monitoring it at home. :( I really don't understand why its elevated, as I exercise, I'm a decent weight, I don't really have the family history... and I try to eat fairly decent. So, we will see. Maybe white coat syndrome? Who knows.

- -

And, my resolutions. I mentioned some of them above... but, here is how I am doing on them:

(1) Grow in my faith - I've never read the entire bible all the way through, so I went out and bought The One Year Chronological bible. I am doing really well with this, its about 3-4 pages a day and I am actually a couple of days ahead. Aside from Job which got a little long, I have really enjoyed my daily readings so far.

(2) Friendships - Hard to work on this until the Judge rules on the final parenting plan. But, I did invite some friends I have known forever over for an appetizer party this Saturday at my house, and I am going to go to the Art Museum for a photo exhibit with a couple of coworkers and plan to do a maternity shoot by the Jewel box of one of them afterwards (this won't be until late March or early April). I really hope to join a running group though, eventually.

(3) Risks - can't think of any, but thats ok.

(4) Quality time with my kids - Trying to listen to them, even if I am busy. Take more time to play in the evenings before bed. I probably have more ideas on this in February. But, next month I really want to start getting back to reading them a book or two before bed time. I am not sure why we stopped this, but I know they miss it.

I also have planned a couple of things in the evening at the library we can do together instead of going home after I get off work each day. Tomorrow we are going to the February is Pancake month at the library, they have a snack, games and crafts in the evening. Also, the Valentine's Party on the Saturday before Valentine's Day and a Lego Day come March.

Jeremi and I also discussed doing one on one time with each child, one time a month... just waiting on final parenting plan.

(5) Time to myself each week that isn't BUSY time. Recharge time. - FAIL. I have tried to schedule a nice relaxing bath after the kids have been in bed several times in January. Each time resulted in a FAIL. Puking kid, oh, the best one. Last night the KNOB cracked and fell off in my hand when I went to turn on the tub. No bath! Maybe tonight? I did go to the Missouri Botanical Gardens a couple of weekends ago and shot photos which I felt was relaxing and fun.

(6) Pursuing my interests: I will give myself a PAT on the back for these:
Superhero Photography class, Training for a half marathon, Reading

(7) Meals - I have done ok with this... my goal is to prepare one new and one old recipe each week. I have tried making homemade wheat bread, a Black Forest Cherry cake, and PW's French Toast puffs. Going to try some Pinterest recipes next. I am having fun with what I have made so I can't complain too much.

(8) Mornings. I hate mornings. Try to be better about getting up on time. - FAIL. This I REALLY need to work on. And the KEY to it is getting up at the time I set my alarm for! Not sure why this is so hard.

(9) Finish my accumulating to-do list (its another blog!). - FAIL. Haven't done much with this... and it is eating at me :(

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lowes Build and Grow - T-Rex

Saturday was a pretty busy day, with Lowes Build and Grow, lunch, running to three places for errands and then our photo booth at home. Nathan just really enjoys the Lowes Build and Grow. I am SO behind on sewing his patches on his smock. I feel bad! I havn't even sewn the train patches on yet. Here are the two kids with their T-Rexes. Autumn is so silly, she is really excited and involved in making each of her Lowes projects, but then as soon as its done, she's like Pheh!. She could care less about it! She doesn't want to carry it out, hold it in the car or even have it in her room when we get home. But, she loves it while she is working on it. She is such a silly girl.

T-Rex. Aren't their arms a little scary looking? Ha!

The patch. With a bite out of it. Very cool.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Portrait Studio in House!

I am in week 3 of 6 of my Superhero photography class, and I can really see growth in my photos every week. This week we focused on portraits and natural light (not using your flash). Our challenge was to set up a portrait studio IN OUR HOUSE. I got butcher paper in 2' rolls and double sided paint safe sticky tape and went to town. I am so excited about how these photos turned out. You cannot see the multiple seams to where the paper met in several spots, or the rips or scuffs on the bottom of the paper. What she suggested was to set the camera to AV mode, shoot at a low f-stop and with no flash. Ta-da! White backgrounds! LOVED this weeks class. And, now... my photos. I did Valentine photos and I also let Autumn dress up in my old dance recital costumes that my Mom sewed by hand. Nathan sports a batman cape.

This is my favorite photo!

Nathan's cute little eyebrow


My version of a school photo shot

These two are WAY too difficult to photograph together. But, a great candid shot.

Autumn couldn't just wear one of my dance recital hats


yet innocent.


Natural light on Autumn's back

Ballet slippers among fallen recital pieces

Love her tongue and concentration


Nathan and his cape

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words.

There is so much going on in this photo... did I take this before bed? Or, was Autumn up at the crack of dawn? Or, possibly, Autumn wanted to sleep in the hallway on pillowcases with her dolls instead of in her Dora bed. Hmmm. And, look deeper. Why isn't there any pillow case covers on the pillows? Why is that? And, why are the pillows in the hall? And, why does she look so pleased to be caught and photographed by showing me her cute little tongue.

I'd try to answer these questions if I could... but, I can't seem to remember over the million and one questions Nathan happened to be asking me tonight about mattresses. YES, mattresses. Apparently, Nathan needed to know all about mattress sizes, mattress strength (yes, like if a semi truck would break it), what the best mattress is, etc. etc. I have NO idea where this came from, but he asked me a million questions about mattresses before school and maybe a trillion after school. And, of course, he would get mad if I ever answered any question to where his mattress size (a twin) was not the strongest, best, longest, widest, safest, whatever the heckest.

Oh, I love my kids :o)- Never a dull moment around here!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday-Up Before She Should Be 'Edition' and Nathan Blooper

I Dare You-Up Before She Should Be

This was going to be a Wordless Wednesday, until I just recalled something Nathan said to me before bed tonight that reminded me just how innocent his little mind is still.

Nathan: Mom, you know how we all have red lines and stuff in our eyes?

Mom: Yes

Nathan: Well, I was watching TV at Grandma's, and you can get something to splash in your eyes and it gets rid of your red lines!

Mom: Really...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fruit My Cube - Farmer's Market

My work has started a new program, called Fruit My Cube, where you pay weekly for a box of mostly fruit with some veggies. It is a really nice program, and since one of my goals this year is to add more fruits and veggies to my diet, I decided to give the first week a try. It is $10.99 for the big box (15+ fruits/veggies) and $6.99 for the smaller box (6+ fruits/veggies). Red seedless grapes are $5.99. I decided to get the big box this week, and I may try the smaller box with grapes next week. It arrived at work today and a really nice box.

Here is a closeup of the fruit and veggies. A local farm in Belleville gets the produce locally and from distributors. All fresh and organic.

Of course, I took my box home to share with the kids. Its still an awful lot of fruit for just me. What you see here is everything I got minus a banana that Nathan ate and a tangelo I ate at lunch.

Here is a list of everything I got this time, it changes week to week which I think is fun:

2 Navel Oranges
1 Micro Baker
2 Bananas
2 Cara Cara Pink Navel
1 Veggie Chips or Straws
1 Anjou Pear
1 Kiwifruit
1 Vine Ripened Tomatoes
2 Minneola Tangelo
1 Avocado
3 Washington Apples

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week 2 of Superhero Photo Class

Week two's theme in the class was to take something ordinary and to make it extraordinary. I am not sure why I decided to take a photo class during the gloomy, cold and overcast month of January... Since I did not have the kids this weekend, I decided it was about time for me to leave my house and backyard and venture out to a place where I could have fun playing with my camera. I have had a free pass to the Missouri Botanical Gardens in my wallet FOREVER. I thought, why not use it today? I did.

I have never been to Mobot in January before... when I got there, I realized that most people probably haven't. What I did find once I got there was that there was LOTS and LOTS to photograph there... things I could make look beautiful and interesting with my camera, even though it was the dead of January!

The first house I went in was Schoneberg... I saw these cute little lemon and orange trees once I entered. Awh! I doubt I have ever been in the Schoneberg house because its probably scorching hot in there during the summer. So, a new adventure! I also went into the Climatron, which is tropical plants... and, another new adventure! My camera lens fogged up! I guess the extreme cold to moist and hot. I also went Temperate house, and it was cooler but not as cold as it was outside. I also had to venture over to the Japanese garden because I thought oh maybe the coy would be out... uh, no, they weren't. Too cold for them, I guess!

Our technical lesson this week was aperture and learning how to use f-stops. Here I have this fancy schnancy Canon Rebel camera, and I had never set it to aperture mode or tried out the little f-stop wheel. I always wondered what that wheel was for on my camera, though. So, this class is really teaching me a lot.

Below you'll see some of my shots...

Hand holding fruit





A heart on your path

Ordinary to extraordinary

The heart of a flower

Something that looks like jewels

A message on a sidewalk

A collection

French Breakfast Puffs from PW

Sooo. One of my resolutions for the new year is to try one old and one new recipe every week. I have been doing fairly well with this... I decided to dust off my Pioneer Woman cookbook that I got two years ago to find some recipes I wanted to try. I decided to start with the French Breakfast Puffs, YUM! Not the most healthy recipe in her book (are any of them healthy? Doubt it.) But, so simple and SO good!

First I stirred together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.

Then, in a different bowl, I creamed together 1 cup sugar and shortening.

Add eggs and mix again

Add flour mixture and milk to the creamy mixture

Pour into a greased muffin pan (makes 12 muffins)

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Sorry, no pictures of coating them in butter and the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Too messy! But, there are lots of good pictures of that on Pioneer Woman's website, here. And, here is the final result-- YUM!!!!!! I froze 6 of the muffins to enjoy later, since it is just me and the kids here at the house. Gotta love a freezer stash.

Hope to have some more NEW recipes that I try later on the blog! This coming week I am going to try the famous pizza casserole and homemade Hasselback garlic and cheese bread from Pinterest. Then, the following week I plan to try PW's spinach artichoke dip for an appetizer party I am hosting at my house. Yum-o!

Here is the recipe:

French Breakfast Puffs

3 cups Flour
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 cup Sugar
2/3 cups Shortening (Crisco)
2 whole Eggs
1 cup Milk
1-1/2 cup Sugar
3 teaspoons Cinnamon
2 sticks Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.

In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a different bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening. Then add eggs and mix again. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.

Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Autumn Progress

I have a Preschool Hooked on Phonics set that I got back when Nathan was younger that I just got out for Autumn to enjoy. She really loves this dry erase board.

And look at how good she did with tracing ALL of the letters of the alphabet! I am so proud of her. We wipe it down and she works on it every morning while she eats her cereal. The Hooked on Phonics box really was a good buy, there are so many little goodies in there that make learning fun for the kids.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I baked a cake!

This is probably the most involved cake I have ever made... Ok, I take that back. I've made a strawberry cake (and had to stop in the middle of THAT cake because of a funnel cloud in front of my house last Spring!) and the well known Thunder cake. Yum! Me love me some cake. I am normally not a big cherry fan, but someone needed a birthday cake, and that someone really likes cherries... and, I like chocolate. So, a black forest cherry cake is what I did.

This was a two layer cake with cake crumbs around the outside of it. YUM!

The cake had a homemade whipcream icing that was so delicious! Also, notice my intricate piping of the cake. Ha, ha!

Here is the recipe, if anyone is interested:

Black Forest Cherry Cake

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (20 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9 inch, round, cake pans; cover bottoms with waxed paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake for 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.

4. Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine reserved juice, cherries, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool before using.

5. Combine whipping cream and confectioner's sugar in a chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.

6. With long serrated knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Tear one split layer into crumbs; set aside. Reserve 1 1/2 cups Frosting for decorating cake; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands. To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer. Frost side of cake. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on side of cake. Spoon reserved frosting into pastry bag fitted with star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake.

Monday, January 16, 2012

First hint of Spring. And, some other photos I took yesterday for the Superhero class.

These are photos from another assignment, where she told us to go out with our camera an hour before sunset. This is the 'magnificent hour' where everything is aglow and the shadows are long. Enjoy!

Autumns Boots Next to First Sign of Spring
First sign of Spring

Nathan running, Fence Shadows
Nathan Running in the shadowy pathway of the fence

Pinecone Hanging from Tree
Barren pinecone hanging from a tree

Nathan looking over the fence

Autumn Walking Towards Me-Sunlight in Her Hair
Autumn walking towards me, sunlight in her hair

Coneflower Watching Sun
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