Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Loving Lately

I have a love affair with the products below.

Private Selection Southern Red Velvet Cake ice cream

I am honestly not a huge ice cream fan.  If I had my choice of dessert, it would be a brownie or a piece of cake.  I buy this ice cream at Fred Meyer which is the only place you can pick it up.  I have tried several flavors since I have been on an ice cream kick lately.  The flavor above is my favorite.  I usually like ice cream with some sort of chocolate but with this one?  I don't care.  It's super yummy.  No wonder I am fat.

Knitter's Pride Dreamz knitting needles

I go back and forth between metal and wood needles.  These needles are amazing!  Very inexpensive and they are so smooth and knit evenly.  I love them!  I want a pair in every size.

Not only are they pretty - each size is a different color - but they are lightweight and fun to use.  

Jockey Skimmies shorts

I have been wearing a lot of skirts and dresses this summer and I have the wonderful issue of thigh rub.  I used to use a cream to stop the chafing but I am walking a lot, I need something more.  Cue the above!  These are much lighter weight than other well-known brands.  They are smooth and take care of any bulges and bumps.  You don't see these shorts under skirts or dresses and they come in a wide variety of colors.  Now I can wear my dresses comfortably!

Barely There CustomFlex Fit bra

Pumping and being pregnant for eternities has wrecked my girls.  I can no longer wear underwire bras without being in a lot of pain.  If I were in a more professional setting I would make the effort to find a bra that has underwire so I look more polished under work clothes.

I love love love the bras below.  They are so comfortable, come in pretty colors and really, they provide a lot of support.  You don't have that sports bra look with a lot of non-underwire bras.  The sizing is a bit different too.  Instead of a band and cup size, they are sized S, M, L, XL.  

Ninja Professional blender

My romantic husband bought this for me for Mother's Day and I use it almost every day.  

My old blender was junk.  This one is awesome!  I make smoothies, sauces, salsa, you name it!  It blends frozen fruit and ice smoothly and quickly.  It is easy to clean (just add a drop of dish soap with hot water and pulse) and stores in my cabinet with no issues.  Jason, who never used our old blender, even uses this.  He makes smoothies almost every day as well!

What products are you loving lately?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Knitting Projects

I have been trying to get a few projects finished lately so I can start something new.  Here are my finished, in progress and on-the-horizon projects.

All projects were downloaded off of Ravelry unless otherwise noted.

This scarf is for my mom.  I really wish you could see the beauty of the yarn from the picture but it's hard to get a good picture with my crappy camera.

Just Enough Ruffles scarf
Yarn credit:  Malabrigo Rios in Purple Mystery

It has a beautiful ruffle edge and a curve shape which included learning a new technique for me (wrap and turn).  The yarn is actually purple, not royal blue like the picture appears.

My next finished project is a hat, also for my mom.  She requested a slouchy beret and I found the project below.

Simple Slouchy Beanie
Yarn credit:  Lion Brand, Tweed Stripe in Mixed Berries

This was so super easy and quick to knit.  I hope she likes it.  Jack is modeling the finished project.

The next project was an infinity cowl that my cousin requested ages ago.  I started it and would work on it occasionally.  I finally bucked up and finished it.  I hope she likes it!

GAP-tastic Cowl
Yarn credit:  Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in Fisherman

Here is a close up of the project in progress:

Finished!  It's folded in half here so it looks shorter than it is.

On me

This is a project that I found that took minimal yarn.  I had a ball of leftover yarn from a hat project and it was too pretty not to use so I am making a matching scarf for myself to go with my winter hat.  It
is a very easy project and I am working on it when I am bored with something else.

Malabrigo Waffles Scarf
Yarn Credit:  Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage in Carmine (I believe it is discontinued).  I don't have a picture of the scarf in progress but here is the yarn:

I kept promising Jason a pair of slipper socks.  His only request was a "manly" color and some tread on the bottom.  When I am done knitting the other sock, I will put puff paint on the bottom for some tread/grip.

Coco Knits Lucky 13 Bed Socks
Yarn Credit:  Lion Brand Hometown USA in Little Rock Granite

Here was what I spent my Saturday afternoon nap-time doing.  Iced coffee and knitting.  It was wonderful.

I started with just what was shown above and in an hour, I had this:

I have most of the other foot knitted.  I love this project because it's so quick and knits up in a day if you have the time.  If not, two or three days and you are done.

I have a list of probably 20 projects that I want to do (no exaggeration).  I am trying to get something knitted for Christmas for everyone.  It might just be the simple dishcloths below (Three Dishcloths by Joan James).

Or I might knit some ornaments (Santa Hat by Aimee Yago):

I have this yarn that I got on clearance and I am excited to use it (Lion Brand Alpine Wool in Blueberry):

I have this hat picked out which is scary.  It's my first cabling project (Chunky Cable Hat by Emily Wessel)!  Won't it be pretty in the blue above?  I hope I can do it.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Tidbits

Let's see, where to start?

* Our weekends have been chaotic to say the least.  They have been filled with family reunions, parties, errands and crazy.  I finally said "to hell with it" and declared two weekends ago a DO NOTHING weekend.  We stayed in, watched movies and relaxed.  I took naps both Saturday and Sunday and it was glorious.

* The naps came in handy when Jason had to cart me to the emergency room a few Saturdays ago.  I was giving the boys a bath (Jason was out for game night) when all of a sudden I had excruciating pain in my lower abdomen.  I mean really painful.  Worse than labor pains painful.  By the time my mother-in-law sped over to watch the boys and Jason got me to the hospital, I was feeling better.  I felt really silly for being at the hospital.  Four hours later, two ultrasounds and a pelvic exam (super fun) later, turns out I had cysts on my ovary and one of them burst.  The pain I was feeling was the blood in my abdomen.  It is very irritating and painful.  Apparently my cyst was fairly large, about the size of a Greek olive, the same size as my ovary.  At least if it happens again, I know what the pain is and I don't have to spend the time to go to the ER.

*  The kids have been both difficult and amazing at the same time.  Jack says the funniest stuff.  We were on our way to Costco yesterday and he yelled "It's a city!" When I explained that we live in a city called Portland, he yelled "Yay!  Good job for saying our city Mama!".  He cracks me up.

* Calvin has some sort of weird virus or something.  He has had a fever for three days now but really no other "sick" symptoms.  He isn't eating a whole lot (but drinking a ton so that is good) but nothing that is alarming.  I am wondering if he might have an ear infection.  One of his tubes is blocked post-surgery because of some dried blood.  He isn't tugging on his ears and doesn't seem to be in any amount of pain.  If tomorrow he still has a fever, I will take him in.  It doesn't help that he is teething so maybe the fever is related to that?

* I have been cooking and baking up a storm.  Jason's grandmother's birthday was last weekend and she requested no gifts.  But, I didn't want to arrive empty handed.  She is elderly and cares for her friend/partner and has a hard time cooking.  I took the hard out of it for her.  I made some freezer meals that she just has to reheat.  I made her a big pan of macaroni and cheese, some barbeque chicken, a small batch of chili, blueberry pancakes and zucchini muffins.  At least some of her breakfasts and dinners are taken care of.  I plan to do the same thing for Christmas for her.

* Picky eaters in this house are still picky eaters.  We are trying and not making any special meals for them but they really aren't sampling new foods.  They simply just don't eat them.  Oh well, just keep swimming!  I plan to make some fun new kid friendly meals the next couple of weeks from the cookbooks I checked out from the library.

* I needed to get OUT of the house on Sunday (like I said, it's been a rough couple of weeks) so I drove by myself to Sauvie's Island and picked 40 pounds of peaches.  I have already made a batch of delicious peach jam and frozen tons of them for smoothies.  Tonight I am going to add some grilled peaches as a side to our dinner!  Yummmmmm.  And 40 pounds of peaches is a lot!  Funny though, it only took me 15 minutes to pick them.  I was shocked when they got weighed.  Fresh, organic peaches for $1.00 a pound beats grocery store peaches any day!

* I have been thinking about taking some sort of class to get out of the house and do something for me.  Whether it be a knitting class, a cooking class, or dance, I need to do something.  I feel very trapped sometimes.  That sounds harsh doesn't it?  I work from home, so I am around Jason and the boys all day.  Then I am with them all weekend and after work.  The only time I really get out is to run errands, and that really isn't considered fun.

* Jason, my sister Carrie and I are headed to the State Fair on Sunday.  See?  That is getting out of the house, ha!  I am super excited!  We try to go every year but missed it last year since Cal was much littler and I was still pumping every three hours.  I love seeing the animals the craft barn and of course, every year, I get a plain funnel cake.  Yummmm.

* Cal is talking up a storm.  It's so stinkin' cute.  He repeats everything so we have to be really careful what we say.  The other day, I was playing a game with Jack and said "bummer" and Cal now is saying bummer.  Ha!  His pronunciation of things is hysterical.  Ducky is "gucky".  Candy is "deedee".  Doggie is "goggie".  He still hasn't really done two words together yet but I am sure it's coming.

* On the kntting front, I finished an infinity scarf for my cousin which means I get to start a new project!  I am working on some slipper socks for Jason.  I really need to do a post just on knitting so I can keep track of my projects.  I only allow myself two projects at the same time as to not lose track or get overwhelmed.  However, I have about a billion projects lined up.  I want to try a cabling project so I found a really pretty hat that I am going to try out.

That is about it for now.  All I seem to have time for lately are randoms posts.  Oh well.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Picky Picky

My boys didn't start out being picky eaters.  It was quite the opposite really.  Both of them LOVED food of any kind early on.  For months and months, Jack's favorite food was green beans.  Cal loved pepper slices and carrots.  Now, I am lucky if they will eat a vegetable at all.

This is mostly my fault.  I have perpetuated the bad eating habits.  If they didn't eat what I had cooked for dinner, I would prepare them something else.  That morphed into just preparing them a whole separate dinner almost every night.

I consider myself a good cook.  I meal plan and find fun and healthy recipes that my whole family will eat.  I try and stay away from strong flavors and spices but it doesn't work.  They won't eat.  90% of the time, they won't even try it.  Jack has a sensitive gag reflex and will vomit if he eats something that he doesn't like or doesn't want.  I have seen it first hand.  It's not pretty.

I won't be posting what my boys WILL eat because it's embarrassing and it makes me feel like a huge failure as a mom.  Instead, I am planning for healthy eating habits for the future for them.  I have made some changes in our house to help encourage them to try eating and trying new foods.

What I am doing:

1.  For the past few nights, I have stopped making the kids a different dinner.  They have been eating what I have made, no exceptions.  I make sure that there are two things on their plate that they will eat (they always get fruit with dinner and usually an additional dairy like yogurt) so that if they decide they won't be eating the main dish, there is SOMETHING they will eat.  If I happen to make a meal that is all out gross and I know they won't like it, they might get a special meal.  This happens so rarely though that I can't see it being often.

How is this going?  Well, nothing really changed.  They are still refusing to eat the main dish and vegetable.  One night it was a delicious steak stir fry chock full of veggies with Udon noodles.  Another night, it was baked macaroni with beef served with sauteed zucchini.  Tonight it's spaghetti with Italian sausage.  Let's see if they eat it.

2.  I am not making a big deal out of them not eating.  If they don't eat it, I don't force it.  I just say "okay" and take their plate away.  If Jack says "I don't like this", I ask if he tried a bite.  99% of the time, he hasn't and so I say "Oh, that's too bad because it's really good".  I can't force him to take a bite (see vomitting above) so that's the end of the conversation.

3.  I ordered a few cookbooks from the library that have kid friendly recipes.  I have already started talking to Jack about helping me pick out recipes for us to cook.  That way, it gives him a say in what he will be eating.  I am hoping he gets excited about trying a food that he has picked out.  Here are some of the cookbooks that I have ordered.  I will be sure and do a review of them once they arrive:

4.  I want to give them choices.  Cal can't really vocalize all that well yet, but Jack can.  I am going to give Jack choices about the food I prepare.  Even though he doesn't eat many vegetables, I can give him a choice between carrots and green beans.

5.  Jack will be involved more in the kitchen.  He loves to cook already but maybe if he is given the chance to help cook more dinners, he will try what he has cooked.  Of course, this will take more prep and time on my end.  It will increase my cooking time but that is okay.  As long as he's involved.

Do I expect miracles?  Not really.  I know a lot of toddlers are insanely picky eaters.  My goal is to get my kids to try new foods and eventually eat like normal kids.  Will they starve?  No because they pretty much eat kid friendly and favorite foods for breakfast, lunch and snack.  Will they hate me?  Probably, but I am okay with that.  They will learn to appreciate this.

Liebster Blog Awards

Woo hoo!  Thanks Erin for nominating my blog!  I have been reading Erin's blog for......well, forever!  I think since she started posting originally.  I love her approach to parenting and she is an amazing artist.  Her boys are very close in age to mine so it's nice to compare notes and tips.  I used her cloth diapering posts as a basis when I started purchasing my stash.  Plus, she hails from New England, which is where I am from!

When you’re nominated for a Liebster, here’s what you do:
1.    Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2.    Nominate 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.
3.    Answer the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.
4.    Display the Liebster Award logo.
5.    No tag backs, meaning you can’t just re-nominate the person who nominated you.

Here are the questions that Erin asked:

1. What is your earliest memory?  I had to be about 3 years old.  My mom's best friend took me to the New England Aquarium for the day to give my mom a break while she stayed home with my baby brother.  I was standing at the center tank when someone said "Come on Rachel".  So I went.  It took the family about 10 minutes to realize this strange little girl was following them around and didn't belong to them.  I did finally make it back to my rightful owner obviously.  My mom's friend was so worried!  
2. What is your most embarrassing memory? – You can be vague if it’s TOO embarrassing!  There is a reason my nickname is Grace.  I am incredibly clumsy.  I have so many embarrassing moments that it can be hard to list just one.  Let's see, there was the time I fell off the back of the band risers in middle school.  Or the time I broke my nose and split my head open in front of about 25 teenagers.  Or having to go to school wearing headgear.  God, I was such an unfortunately geeky child.
3. What was or were your favorite childhood book(s)?  Definitely the Little House on the Prairie series.  I can still read this series as an adult.  I even have my copies from when I was a kid.
4. What is your favorite book to read to your kid(s) right now?  My two favorites are Goodnight Gorilla and Good Dog Carl.  Probably because it requires me to fill in the pictures with dialog.  There are very few words in either book so I get to create my own stories.  Plus the boys like all the voices that I do.
5. Is there a movie you love and couldn’t or can’t wait to watch with your kid(s)?  I (sadly) hadn't seen a lot of the Disney movies before I had kids but what I am most excited for them to see is Wizard of Oz.  I adore this movie and the kids are still too little to experience it yet.  When they are bigger and the flying monkeys won't freak them out, I hope they love it as much as I do.
6. If you had to choose a “uniform” to wear for the rest of your life a la Marge Simpson, what outfit would you choose?  Comfy jeans, a long tank top and a short sleeved cardigan.  Heh, that is pretty much what I wear every day now.
7. If a war broke out between the Smurfs and the Gummi Bears, who would win and why? If you are too young to answer this question insert your own beloved cartoon characters.  There was a Gummi Bears cartoon?  I must have had a deprived childhood because I had no idea.  Let's just replace Gummi Bears with Care Bears shall we?  Dude, Care Bears would win every time.  I loved that cartoon.  We were pretty poor growing up and the Care Bears were so popular.  I am pretty sure I begged my mom for one because that year at Christmas, she had handmade us Care Bears.  Mine had a rainbow on its belly.
8. What is the first record/cassette/CD you remember purchasing by yourself?  You probably will never believe this, but Fleetwood Mac's Tango in the Night.  For real.  To this day, I am a huge Fleetwood Mac fan.
9. Do you have a role model or unofficial mentor? Who is it and why?  I have several actually. My mother-in-law is my role model when it comes to being a good person, a Christian and a mother.  She is amazing, caring, kind and I look to her for advice and wisdom.  I have never seen her angry and she always looks for the good in people.  I want to be more like her as I grow as a person.  She probably doesn't know this, but my aunt is my professional role model.  She has created herself a very good career from working her way up, much like I did.  She doesn't have a college education but it doesn't matter - she is a hard worker, and everyone in her place of business respects her.  
10. Would you rather be wealthy and idle, or famous for a career you enjoy but financially struggling?  Well, I am sort of doing the second, although I wouldn't consider myself famous.  Grass is always greener right?  I would rather be wealthy and idle.  I could make a career out of being lazy.
11. Who is your favorite Baldwin (question submitted by my husband)?  Alec!  He is funny and seems to persevere even through some scandals.

And now for the good stuff!  Here are the bloggers I am nominating, in no particular order:

1.  When Two Became Four - The Adventures of Twin Girls
2.  B&R Plus 1....More
3.  Elsewhere
4.  Every Day with Hazel Mae
5.  Mama at Home
6.  Our Little House in the Country
7.  He Recruited My Heart
8.  My Ramblings
9.  Sweet Tea and Tacos
10.  Stumbled Onto the Blogwagon
11.  The Wino That I Know

I might be biased but I know every single one of the ladies that post on the blogs above.  I am related to one, am Facebook friends with all, live in the same town as another, and am good friends with many.  When traveling for business, I met one of the bloggers in person after being Facebook and blog friends for a long time.  All of these ladies are amazing and each brings something different to the blog world.  Cooking, style, weight loss, DIY projects, parenting, pregnancy, the list goes on.

Here are the questions for my nominees:

1.  If given the choice, and money were no option, what would you choose to do for your career?
2.  Name a food or a meal that you could eat every day.
3.  Do you have a regret about something?  Feel free to unload!
4.  What is your guilty pleasure tv show?
5.  Kids or pets not included.  What would you grab in the event of a house fire?
6.  What is one thing you consider yourself really good at?
7.  What does your dream home look like?
8.  Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Why?
9.  In your Favorites menu on your internet page, list the first three that come up.
10.  Where is your favorite place in the world?
11.  Name an actor, author, political figure, alive or deceased that you would love to spend a day with.