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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wordful Wednesday

I was looking through my pictures and came across this pic of my little guy this past summer. Now that Winter is here, leaves are off the trees and the sun is gone by 5pm this really made me realize how much I love the beach and the sun. I can't wait until I get to stick my toes in the sand again. I envy those of you that live near the beach and can plop yourself down with a good book and a hat anytime of the year.

My best wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year to you all!

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas at our house

Here's me baking the traditional tea ring we have every Christmas morning. Notice little guy is cooking too in the background :)

DS and daddy. I love this pic

Here are a few pics of our Christmas morning. It was a wonderful day. Woke up and fed the guy some oatmeal and fruit and then got down to the business of opening presents. He'll be two in February, so he doesn't quite get the whole concept but he sure got the hang of opening the presents. He was so good he even started helping us open ours. We didn't get him too many toys because we don't want him to be overwhelmed and he really just doesn't need all that stuff. Since his birthday is also in early Feb he'll be getting more at that time so we try to keep everything in perspective. His favorite toys are his tool box, he wanted one so bad after watching daddy with his. He also got a house from Playmobil with little people and he really likes them too. One of his favorite toys is a crazy gizmo that we got from one of the museums we went to this past fall. I'll post a pic of it on Wed.

I hope you all had a wonderful day with your friends and family! Hard to believe we've come to the end of another year - so quickly!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Need some SPICE in your life??

It's not what you think - ha! Whether you love to bake, cook or both, I’m sure you often find yourself in need of spices and herbs to add flavor and give life to your dishes. If you are tired of the same old, same old that you get at the local grocery store, then you should give Penzey’s Spices a try!

I received a gift set of spices as a wedding gift a few years back, and ever since that time I’ve been a big fan of Penzey’s spices. I rarely, unless it’s emergency, buy my spices anywhere else. I think they have such fresh and flavorful spices compared to any other that I’ve tried. Their Chinese Cinnamon is especially delicious.

Lately I’ve been wanting to add some jalapeno powder to some of my recipes. I don’t know why I didn’t go to Penzey’s as my first stop. I checked around the local grocery stores and couldn’t find it there. It was no surprise when I checked Penzey’s website and found it there.

The thing I really like about Penzey’s is the glass jars you can store your spices in. I like to pinch out my spices on my food, rather than shake. I also like to use my measuring spoons when I’m baking and the wide mouth glass jars allow me to do that. The spoons fit perfectly in these jars.

The spices come in bags so you can refill the jars as needed. I keep the unused spices in my freezer until I need to refill the jars. That way they keep just as fresh as the day they arrived.

The next time you need spices think about Penzey’s.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


My mom, brother and I (I was 4 1/2 months old here)

My husband, son and I last Christmas morning

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Remember Vaseline?

My mother AND father always used Vaseline as their hand lotion when I was a little girl growing up in Nebraska. Those winters can get pretty cold and dry, and I recall my parent's always having a bottle on the bathroom sink. We'll Vaseline is introducing a great new product for dry skin. Have a look at the video.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My son, the Superhero

DS's cape

I just got the cutest cape from Plum Pear Apple Designs for my DS for Christmas. He might not be old enough to appreciate it yet, but I thought it was so cute I couldn’t resist. The fact that it was handmade is really what sold me on it. I love supporting mom’s that have their own businesses. I especially love mom’s that make great items like this cape! Erin is a stay at home mom that hand makes each of the capes herself. She puts a lot of love into each Superhero cape, and it definitely shows! She believes that every kid deserves to be a Superhero with his or her OWN initials on the back of the cape.

She has a selection of designs and colors to choose from. I chose the star emblem with his initial inside for my son’s cape. I also chose the contrasting fabric on the inside of the cape. He’s going to look so dashing swooping in and saving the day! Check out Plum Pear Apple Designs for more about these wonderful capes. I’m sure it’s too late for Christmas but it’s never too early to start thinking about birthday’s in the new year.

All of her capes are bright and colorful! Superhero capes are good for both BOYS and GIRLS alike! Every kid likes to imagine they are a Superhero that can leap over tall buildings and save people in peril!

Friday, December 19, 2008

What is a Buche de Noel?

I never heard of a Buche de Noel until I moved to the DC area. I'm not sure where I've been that I never heard of this delicious Christmas delicacy, but there you are. Actually the exact place I learned of it was le Madeleine's restaurant in Alexandria. If you haven't been to one they have the most fantastic tomato-basil soup that I've ever tasted.

Buche de Noel means "Yule Log", a cake, which is one of the best served traditional French desserts.

According to, basically the history of the Buche (as it is fondly referred to), is that the great Napoleon Bonaparte of France issued a proclamation stating houses in Paris to keep their chimneys closed during the winter because of the cool air that caused medical problems. This prohibited Parisians to use their fireplaces. But ingenious French bakers then invented this dessert as a symbolic substitution around which the family could gather for story-telling and other holiday happiness.

The origins of this most well-known French pastry can be found in the ancient Celtic tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. On this shortest day of the year, the Celts would search for a large trunk of either oak, beech, elm or cherry and burn it as a symbol of the rebirth of the sun, they also offered their thanks to the sun for recurring to the earth.

During the middle Ages the logs and the ceremony of the burning log became more detailed. The logs themselves would be decorated with ribbons and greenery. Then the youngest and the oldest member of each family would carry the log to the hearth and set it in flames for the whole night. The vestiges would be collected the next day to be used for the whole year. They were thought to help cure various sicknesses and protect the house from the wickedness of the evil spirit. As days past it changed to small logs and then served as a dessert to the guest.

Buche de Noel is well garnished and so well presented like a log just to be ready for the fire. This traditional desert is generally made from other sponge cake, filled with butter cream. Sometimes, even chocolate cakes are also cherished. Bûches are often served with cake cut off from one side, set on top of the cake to resemble a chopped off branch and bark-like texture is often produced in the butter cream for further realism. Tree branches, chorus, mushrooms made of meringue, fresh berries, and powdered sugar to have an effect of snow are most commonly used decorative style with traditional value.

Here is the link to a Buche recipe. Looks like a lot of work. Think I'll get mine at le Madeleine's!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wordful Wednesday

We took little guy to see the National Tree this past weekend. First, we paid a visit to the American History museum, which has been closed for the past three years for renovations. It is where you will find the Star Bangled Banner, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz's glass slippers, light bulbs, Archie Bunker's chair, Seinfeld's "Pirate" shirt (you may remember that episode of you are a Seinfeld fan), and basically memorabilia from America. There are also planes, trains and automobiles, so of course my son would want to see the trains :).

After the museum we took him to the Sculputure Garden's Ice Skating Rink. It's a rather small outside rink but it is very cute and charming. You can see my son up against the railing watching the skaters. He was quite enchanted as he has never seen ice skating before.

Of course we were there for several hours before sunset visiting the museum and the ice rink (having lunch too, of course :)). We wanted to wait until evening so we could see the tree all lit up. We got to the tree about 5pm and wouldn't you know it, little guy was fast asleep and missed the whole tree experience. It was a very nice day, temps were in the 50's so it was a very pleasant experience. Too bad little guy missed the tree......I have also included a photo of The White House. Pardon the blurry picture but it was tough taking at night without a tripod :), and all the glare from the surrounding lighting.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

How CPSIA will effect small businesses

If you love to purchase unique handmade children’s items, or children’s items from small businesses those days may be numbered. Apparently there is some legislation set to go into effect as of February 10, 2009 that may change your ability to do so. This legislation threatens to close down many small businesses. Basically this new law requires anything that is intended for children 12 and under be tested by a third party for lead. That means anything!! I mean anything!!! It sounds like a good idea, in concept, but it’s impact on the retail world (and the consumers as well, since many of these small businesses will likely close up shop because they cannot afford the testing). Even things that have no chance of having lead in them still need to be tested, read - an organic cotton t-shirt.

This just sounds absurd to me, especially given the current economic crisis we are in. That is just what we need, more businesses closing down and more people without jobs because of some legislation that really wasn’t thought through completely. Whether you sell on ebay, Craigslist, Etsy or have an online store you will have to comply with this new law.

Testing is expensive and it’s not just a matter of testing one thing, all parts of that item must be tested. So you can see that this could really have devastating results for small retailers/manufacturers, even large ones will have to comply with this. I wonder if there will be a bailout for the retailer’s that will have to close their doors? It makes me sad to think that many crafter’s and artisans that have made a nice living off of their talents will have to stop sharing their art and talent with the rest of us. Sounds to me like there will only be two places to shop for children’s clothes. Baby’s R Us and Walmart, because they will be the only ones that can afford the testing (because they pay such ridiculously low labor prices, no doubt). Pardon the cynicism, but this is just ludicrous to me.

Check out this great post from Happy Panda that helps to explain the repercussions of this legislation. You will also find a petition there that you can sign regarding CPSIA.

Please help spread the word!!

Check out these sites:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Getting the Ears in the Holiday Spirit

With the holidays so rapidly approaching, I’ve realized that my Christmas music selection needs some serious updating. After several moves and many technology changes like 33 RPM records (come on, some of you know what these are ;) ), 8 track tapes and cassettes, my collection includes only a few Christmas CD’s that I actually like, I might add. I don't know why I'm still hanging on to the cassettes. I can't imagine ever listening to them again. I just can't bring myself to get rid of them because of the nostalgia aspect I suspect. Anyhow, I digress......

I appreciate traditional Christmas carols as well as contemporary music. However, my favorite Holiday music is typically instrumental. I especially love the piano.

A couple of my favorites are Liz Story’s – The Gift, a fabulous collection of beautiful piano music. Celtic Christmas – just a very ethereal sort of sound but I love it. I have another CD of Christmas Carols, I have no idea where I got it or who it is but it is one of my all time favorites. It’s called 20 Peaceful Carols.

In my search for music I have come across a fabulous album that I just love. It’s by Enya, “And Winter Came” – there is nothing that she can sing poorly in my book. I just love her voice and I love the music. Her song called “Star and Midnight just made me bawl as I was driving home from an appointment yesterday.

Another CD that I just purchased is “Charlie Brown’s Christmas.” Who doesn’t love Vince Guaraldi? Those songs just take me back in time to my childhood. I can remember getting so excited when I knew it was coming on TV that evening. No matter how old I get I still love that cartoon and that music. I picked up my copy at Starbuck’s. It was even 20% off, so I got it for somewhere around $10.

What are your favorite Christmas CD’s? I’d love to hear what you listen to. I’m always open to new ideas for expanding my selection.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Head on over to my friend at The Brunette Blog for another great giveaway just in time for the holidays. There are some fabulous items being given away and it sounds like a lot of fun too! It's going to take place on Twitter on December 19th, and you know how fast and furious those get. Grab a glass, or two ;0, of wine and pull up a chair for a fun evening with friends. And you just might win something too!!

Check out The Brunette Blog for more details.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Every Thanksgiving we go to my in-laws house in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The whole family gets together for turkey and all the fixings. It’s wonderful to connect and catch up with the family, as we all have such busy lives. One of the days that we were there we decided to go to Steamtown. Steamtown is a National Historic Site that was created to preserve the history of steam railroading in America.

If your child has an interest in trains and you find yourself in that part of Pennsylvania you should pay a visit. There are actual steam trains that you can ride on for a short distance. A bridge connects to the museum which allows you to walk over the trains. This provides a unique perspective of a train that I’ve never experienced. (You can see us on the bridge in the picture above). It was a pretty cold day and you can really see the smoke billowing out of the smokestack. Some of the trains were very old and in serious states of deterioration, but the bones were still there, so you get a good feel for the charm and character of these trains.

It was quite a hike to the museum on a cold day, but it was worth it. There were some very interesting exhibits on display that show the railroad and the men that worked it. What a tough life that must have been. Back breaking work for sure, but I couldn’t help thinking that most of these men didn’t complain much, if at all. They were just happy to have a job so they could provide for their families.

There were buttons to push to hear different train whistle sounds. Little guy loved pushing those buttons. You can see LG above wearing a Conductor’s hat (have you ever seen a Conductor with a pacifier in his mouth? :) ). There were also full sized train cars that you could walk in. You can see my son and I and his grandmother in the caboose above. LG loved the caboose. He wanted to go back several times. He liked to wave out the window at his grandma. Amazing how small that caboose was, and to think that two men slept in these small quarters. There was a small wood burning stove in one corner that I’m sure provided much needed warmth in this drafty caboose. It was all kind of simple and charming.

These were fun memories to make with his grandmother and my sister-in-law. I’m glad we were able to pay a visit while we were there. It made me nostalgic for the bygone era of the train. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Gift Basket

Market Basket


I like to support fair trade every chance I get, so when I come across great fair trade products and deals, I’m going to pass them along to you. If you haven’t been to Global Exchange lately you should make the short trip. People really seem to appreciate hand made and fair trade gifts. If you have people on your shopping list that like unique and special finds, you should check out Global Exchange.

Global Exchange is your online source for socially conscious gifts. They have crafts, jewelry, recycled products (love that!!), bath and beauty products, even coffee and chocolate! They’re a ‘one stop shop’ for holiday shopping. Right now until December 31, 2008, they are offering a $10 Gift Card on orders of $50 or more. So make the trip, you’ll be glad you did. (Use the code in the Gift Certificate above when you checkout at Global Exchange.

Monday, December 8, 2008


If you celebrate Christmas I’m sure you have already put up your tree or are in the process of doing so. I love putting up the tree, pulling out the ornaments and remembering the places I’ve been to, the vacations where I’ve found many of the ornaments on my tree, special family and friends that have given me some ornaments as gifts, ornaments that have been in my family and my husband’s since we were children, and the new ornaments I have gotten to mark the birth of my son last Christmas.
The Christmas tree is really a family tree when you think about it. Sure I have some ornaments that I bought just to fill in, but most of the ornaments on my tree are special to me and give me a nostalgic feeling as I look at each one. Some have been given to me by my dear mother, who passed away 3 years ago in November. Her ornaments take me back to Christmases as a child, helping mom bake Christmas cookies, singing at church on Christmas morning with my family, wrapping presents with my mom in her bedroom and being so excited about Santa coming I could burst. I miss my mom, and I appreciate these special memories that some of my ornaments evoke.

My husband and I make an effort to buy at least one new ornament each year from someplace that we’ve been so that we can recall those memories as we decorate our tree and celebrate the end of another year.
This year we’re adding the ornament by Muraldevotee in honor of my son. We’re also adding a seagull ornament from our trip to Cape May in September. I guess I look at it not just as a Christmas tree, but also as a New Year’s tree J. It’s a chance to memorialize important events that happened over the year, (and even in previous ones). But it’s definitely a family tree.

With all of that in mind, I would like to feature a few ornaments that you might be interested in for your tree or as a gift. As I mentioned above, we are adding a new ornament to our tree this year in honor of our son who will turn two in February. It’s from Muraldevotee at Etsy. I was able to choose the hair color and style and eye color for my ornament. I love it and was so happy to add it to our tree this year to mark my son’s 2nd Christmas. She also does key fobs, I think these are a great stocking stuffer, so unique and personalized.

Jenblends is also another cute Etsy site that I came across that has some really cute ornaments. The ornaments could even be given as a decoration on the present – two gifts in one. And the recipient has a nice reminder of you when they decorate their tree. The Emerald Crackle Trees (see 3rd image above), would make a nice touch to incorporate into a bow on the package wrap.

I think this is an adorable Baby’s First Christmas ornament (see 2nd image above), from SarEi’s Shop at Etsy. Take a look! There are some really lovely and unique handmade ornaments. There is a First Christmas Together ornament. I’ve never seen anything like that before – and it’s so nicely done! How about this adorable “It’s a Girl,” ornament?
Those are just a few ideas of some great places to find unique ornaments for your tree to add to your collection, or for friends and family for Christmas gifts.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Toobeez Giveaway.....

Have you heard of Toobeez? I was just introduced to them by my friend over at Ohana Mama. She is offering one lucky Ohana Mama Reader a 15 piece set! Just in time for the holidays!! How great is that?

Don't know what Toobeez is? Let me tell you a bit about them......Toobeez is basically a life-sized Tinker toy building system that can be used as a toy, an educational tool, a prop to engage teambuilding or a therapeutic aid. Toobeez is a great learning tool while also promoting creativity.

Head on over to Ohana Mama and check out the Giveaway. You won't want to miss it!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordful Wednesday

We live about 8 hours drive away from my husband's parents, and my parent's have both passed away. My son doesn't get to see his grandparent's as often as we'd like. He really enjoyed his visit this past Thanksgiving weekend. He had fun coloring with grandma and I know grandma had fun coloring with him. It makes my heart happy to see them both enjoying each other!

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Simple Salutations

Tiny Prints

Pear Tree Greetings

With the holiday’s fast approaching, I’m sure you are in the market for holiday cards. I know I am. Maybe you already have them and you’ve even sent some out already – you are my hero!! If you are like me and still haven’t even figured out that Christmas is coming and you needed the turkey to remind you, it’s still not too late to get those holiday cards ordered.

Here are some great sites to check out. Some of these cards can be personalized with or without your photo. Many times the card prices depend on the quantities and styles that you order.

You may already be using Shutterfly to upload your digital photos and order them as prints, if so, that's the obvious ad easy place for you to also create your Holiday Cards. You can even pick your Shutterfly prints and photo cards from your local Target? Shutterfly also lets you share your photos with your friends and family and it's like Flickr but offering you the service to print your photos too - or turn them into variety of photo products - like Holiday Cards.

At Simple Salutations, you’ll find beautiful designs for the holidays. Add your own photos to make that special card you’ve been looking for. You can be traditional or pick a more modern design.

ECLECTIQUE SOUL Eclectique Soul has some great designs, hand drawn with embellishments applied. Keep them in mind even after the holidays. If you're looking for some unique cards, check them out at

Pose Prints makes a cartoon character of you and your family for fun and funky holiday cards. You can fully customize the text, so card designs work also for invitations and announcements. If you like the style, but don't feel like designing the character, they also offer pre-designed versions of most popular cards.

Pear Tree Greetings is another great source for customizable Holiday Cards with or without your photos. But one great feature of Pear Tree Greetings – they are 100% Recycled Holiday Cards.Great selection of green card styles.

Tiny Prints offers a wide variety of both photo cards and personalized cards without a photo. Tiny Prints cards are modern, fresh and very well priced, many cards are under two dollars per card! They alsooffer invitations and announcements for your special occasions. If you haven’t discovered Vista Print yet, you should check them out at They offer holiday cards, note cards, business cards, etc. There are always great deals, including free products and half off specials. Be sure to sign up to receive specials via e-mail.