Monday, April 30, 2012

May flowers...

We made it through Turn of the TV week.  They made a huge deal out of it at school and I think the kids had fun.  The kids who participated for the whole week got little 'prizes'.  LM got a certificate for a free taco from Del Taco.  I have no idea when she'll use it - she has never eaten there.  But no matter what the prize is  the kids get excited.

Yet another month has flown by.  It will be May 1st tomorrow.  Less than four weeks of school left for LM.  The end of 4th grade.  Please tell me how this happened?

My cousin's lovely hydrangeas.

The crazy April weather will hopefully lead to a sunny, flowery May.  It's been hot here the past week, but what's new.

April showers bring May flowers.


Wildflowers


Looking forward to a busy, busy May with lots of fun to go along with it (after I get my tooth filled tomorrow, that is.)  Hoping to have some yummy tomatoes sometime this summer from the plants we planted on earth day.  So far so good....

Monday, April 23, 2012

Turn off TV week....



Today starts 'Turn off Screens' week at LM's school.  Otherwise known as 'Turn off TV week' or Digital Detox. I actually like the idea of this.  My husband?  Notsomuch.  You see, it coincides with the NHL playoffs. You understand, right?  I asked him if he could wait until she went to bed to turn on a game, you know, to show support.  He wasn't on board with that as you can imagine.

This year LM's school is really pushing it.  Really hard.  They are giving the kids 'homework' on Monday - make a poster for turn of screens week.  And everyone that makes a poster gets a prize.  Not just the winning poster but all.  And since LM loves a prize she's on the poster band wagon.  I'm sure it will be fun for her. And me too.  They also get tempted with prizes to show up on Tuesday for Young Author and Artist night.  Plus it's book fair. 

What to do without TV you ask?  Other than the poster and young author night we've planned:
  • Game night on Wednesday.  We've got some fun board games.  My favorite is Yahtzee!  And there's always the marathon that is Monopoly.  And,  let's make up words Scrabble, another favorite.
  • Read. On Thursday, since LM has hockey practice and doesn't get home until 6:30 so we'll just get out our books and read.
  • Swim. Friday night's plan.  Although it is supposed to cool down at the end of the week so we may end up on the trampoline or riding bikes.
I believe that to show support I will not be blogging this week (except for today but don't tell LM).

Do your kids do this at their schools?  Do you think this one week really changes habits?



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012...

Every spring I plant a few plants in pots and since we've been out of town so much I haven't gotten to it.  So I figured since we were home this weekend it was the perfect Earth Day project for us.  I like to do something each year for Earth Day & it usually involves planting. 

I headed out to my home away from home, Lowe's, on Saturday.  BY MYSELF.  I never get to go there alone and I really enjoyed just wandering down each aisle without anyone asking 'what do we need here?'  I got a few plants and some potting soil for our project.  This year I bought some tomato plants (wish me luck) and some herbs (peppermint & oregano).  I haven't tried to grow tomatoes since we've lived in Arizona.  I know people do it successfully so we'll see.  Honestly, I haven't had a really good tomato since we left the east coast.  It's the sad truth. And I love a really good tomato.  


Along with the herbs I got this blue salvia which I love.  I hope it does well.  It says it needs to be in full sun which we have so, again, time will tell.  I love that it's an annual too.  I hope to keep it for a while.



Here's the peppermint which, as you can imagine, smells divine.  When we lived in Virginia I planted peppermint in the back yard and it went wild.  It looked beautiful and smelled the same.  I love putting mint in iced tea or making ice cubes with it (I put a one leaf in each cube area of the tray and fill with water).


LM got in on the action for a bit.  But I'm not sure gardening is her thing. She usually loses interest pretty quickly.  Today she decided she'd rather swim (record breaking temps here today) than dig in the dirt.


Hope you had a nice Earth Day!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pinterest....

 


Well, I signed up for  Pinterest months ago but haven't been on the site since that initial day.  I thought, 'I don't need to get involved with another social media site.  How big can this be anyway?'  Well, we all know how big it is and clearly I am one of the few who is not a regular user.

I'm certainly not a trendsetter....

Pinterest is invading every facet of our lives.  A twitter chat I participated in yesterday even involved pinning.  I was so out of my element.

So, I guess it's time to look into this again and get on this bandwagon.  I would hate to be left behind.

If you are a Pinterest user I'd love to hear how you use it; what works and what doesn't.  



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

School Lunch....


There's lots of talk about school lunch these days.  Good things, bad things, in between things.  At the root we all know that what our kids put in their bodies is important for so many reasons.  We all know that lunch provided at school may be a child's only meal of the day.  Yet, so many school districts in this country aren't providing the very best for the kids.  I know, there are many reasons.  The one I hear the most is 'this is all we can afford to serve to the kids'.  Luckily, many schools are creating school gardens or partnering with local farms and restaurants in order to feed the kids.  Unfortunately, my daughter's school district is not one of them.  Fortunately, we are not in the position that she needs to eat the school provided meal each day.  I make her lunch most days and think I make it healthy but fun.  But let's take a look at what our school district is serving this week for lunch

Monday
Breaded Baked Chicken and 'crinkle' fries

Tuesday
Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

Wednesday
Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Thursday
Chili Cheese Dog

Friday
Breakfast for lunch (usually french toast sticks & a sausage patty)

In addition to these 'special entrees' as they are called, the following is available each day:  Chicken patty sandwich, Hamburger, Ham & Cheese sandwich, Turkey & Cheese sandwich, Tuna Sandwich & PB&J sandwich.

The children select one of the above and 2 or 3 'side dishes' - Milk(chocolate and white) is considered a side dish.  As are: carrots(bagged, baby), animal crackers, yogurt, grapes(bagged), lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli & juice boxes. Note that you cannot really make a salad unless you don't want a drink (or your salad consists of lettuce & one vegetable).

Our school district has nutritional information on their website and most of these lunches, amazingly, fall within the 'guidelines' - I haven't researched where the guidelines are from but I assume they are USDA guidelines.  Most days the menus go over the calorie guideline by about 10% but fat appears to be under 30% each day. 

No cooking is done in the 'kitchens' at our elementary school, only heating up in a microwave when needed.  We recently went from styrofoam lunch trays (oh, the landfills) to red plastic, reusable baskets. 

I think these meals are disgraceful (breakfast is no better) but from talking to people at school and other parents nobody seems terribly concerned.  Mostly because their children don't have to eat this food; they can pick and choose the days they do (we have a 'Dominos pizza day' once a month or so).  Imagine though that this is the one 'hot' meal your child gets all day.  There are kids at our school that are in that situation.

Imagine also, that we lived in France where the lunches offered at school were things we would serve at dinnertime in our homes.  Please look at Karen Le Billon's website and see the French school lunch menu project she talks about.  I look forward to those posts every week. Karen also just wrote a fabulous book called 'French Kids Eat Everything' which I am reading (and loving) right now.

What kind of lunches does the cafeteria at your child's school serve?



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Grey...


With the exception of our hall bath, every room in our house has been painted since we moved in 13 years ago.  I think I'm ready to tackle that room (I use the word tackle very loosely because it's a really small room so I think I could finish up in an hour or so).  I think I've decided on grey paint.  I love grey right now and it will pick up the grey in the marble counter top.



I'm not sure if I want to go with a light-ish grey like this.


Or something darker like this.

I think something lighter will work better in the room.  I like the darker grey but I think it's a little more modern and the bathroom is more cottage-y.

So I'll do my usual 'go to Lowe's and bring home 5 or 6 paint swatches and tape them to the wall for a week or so' and figure out what I like.

Do you have a grey that you've used and liked?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Kitchen Gadget...






I love kitchen gadgets.  I think most people do. I have been known to buy too many.  I bet a lot of you have, too.  Lots of have to have, trend of the moment type of things (salad shooter, anyone?)  Things we really don't need. When space is at a premium in the kitchen I always check the gadget drawer and see if I've acquired anything that I'm not using regularly, then I toss it.  I remember seeing Peter Walsh on Oprah once and he said to take all your gadgets out of the drawers and put them in a box.  Keep everything in the box for a month and as you need something take it out of the box.  Once you're done with it and have washed it, put it back in the drawer.  Anything left in the box at the end of the month can be donated.  It means you really don't need it.  A month might be too small of a time frame so you can adjust that.  You won't want a box on your counter for much longer than that!

I started thinking about what my favorite, most used gadgets are and came up with the top 5.  Here they are:

1. Kitchen Shears
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin L Shears
Honestly, I don't know how people live without them.  I use mine every day.  Multiple times. I have these ones  from Henckels.  

2. Stainless measuring cups

Williams-Sonoma Stainless-Steel Measuring Cups & Spoons

I love these because they are sturdy, dishwasher safe, & don't hold odors.  I don't have the stainless measuring spoons because I prefer these ones from Pampered Chef.

3.  Jar Opener
There are many different types of jar openers but I have this one from OXO.  I'm not sure if it's a 'must have' but I use it almost every day.

4. Battery operated Salt and Pepper Shakers.

Graviti Electric Salt & Pepper Mills

I've heard people say they don't like them but I love mine.  Again, it's something I use everyday.  I find that the batteries last for quite awhile, even with all the use they get.  I have the salt shaker shown above from Williams-Sonoma.  And this pepper grinder.

5.  Garlic Press

Now, I don't use this everyday but when you need minced garlic this is the only way to go.    I have the Pampered Chef one but I'm sure there are other good ones out there.  I will say that I have had mine for years (over 10) and it's like brand new, even after all those trips in the dishwasher. 

Those are my top 5, gotta have kitchen gadgets.  If I could only choose ONE of those to keep?  The kitchen shears, for sure.

I.m linking up to Kate @ Centsational Girl's Favorite Kitchen Gadget party.

What makes your list?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bunny Cake...


Image:  Kraft recipes.com


When we were younger we made a bunny cake each year.  I have wanted to make one every year because they are so cute.  And so easy.  But my husband didn't like coconut so I never made it.  Then this year he and LM reluctantly tried real coconut (as opposed to the flakes from the bag) an low and behold they liked it.  Yippee.  That means we're making this cake this year!  I decided that I will probably make the bow or ears without the coconut - just in case they changed their minds.  Pictures to follow soon!

Hopefully this bunny cake will be a new tradition for our family.  For the past few years we've been making these sticky buns for Easter morning.  It can't hurt to have another 'sweet' tradition!

What are your Easter food traditions?