Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lauren's self-portraits...

Lauren recently inherited my old camera.  A little HP Photosmart $100 camera that Bengt purchased before one of his trips to India instead of lugging the big expensive Canon.  I used this camera like crazy!  It's super simple and pocket-size.  I loved it.  But I have been forcing myself to advance to the "real" camera.  So she has been a budding photographer!  Some of her photos are hilarious, some are awful and some really impress me.  (I think she watches what I do because so many of her photos look like mine!) 
 I am just giving you a sample of her self-portraits here....
 This is my favorite one!
 Rock star!
For Christmas I got her one of those kid cameras that you can basically throw down the stairs and they will survive.  Since she had already been using this camera of mine, she thought the kid camera was a joke.  (and I have to agree)  It has a tiny screen, the batteries wear out in a second and its hard to see the video mode vs. photo mode.  Save your money parents!  Just get a real one that is inexpensive and easy to use.

Pretty cool hey?  Do you ever think about how influential things are in your child's life?  Like we hand her this camera at 4 1/2 years old and she becomes a famous photographer in 25 years!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

French Braid Delight!

While visiting my Mom before our Door County Labor Day get-a-away, I BEGGED Lauren to let my Aunt Sandy French braid her hair.  It's just now long enough.  I LOVED it when Sandy would braid my hair when I was little.  Or in high school, my favorite "trick" was to have her braid it wet and then the next day have a crimped hair-do rockin'! (oh, for the love of crimped hair......please don't let that style come back!  It was wrong and hideous.  Yes, I owned a crimping iron.  I admit it.  I was a true child of the 80s!) 
Lauren isn't that much of a fan of getting her hair done.  A simple pony-tail or a barrette is all I can usually muster out of her.  She's all like "ouch, oooooh, that hurts....."  (I didn't even touch you yet!)  And some mornings before school we have full-on tears while working the kinks out.  And I say, "Oh, Lauren suck it up.  You are a girl.  Deal with it.  Sometimes beauty is pain!!!!"
See the fear here?  COME ON!  Don't you understand how wonderful the result will be?  It's your first French braid and your hair is finally long enough!  Let my hair dreams for you come true!!!!
The braid may have lasted 30 minutes if we were lucky!  But I got photos!!!!!  : )

Spicy Margarita Shrimp....from Ree

Okay, here we go again with The Pioneer Woman.  If you haven't checked out her website, you might love it!  The more people I tell about PW the more I realize how many people adore her and follow her blog.  (I might be a bit behind the PW popularity!)It's got a little bit of something for anything you might be interested in. 

She has a link on her site to her "Tasty Kitchen" site.  Where I found this fantastic recipe for spicy-margarita-shrimp.  Really, really good!  And I'm one of those people who try new recipes and feel ho-hum about them when what I am really looking for is "Shazaaaaam"!!!  This recipe did not disappoint!  Check it! 

What you will love about The Pioneer Woman is her insane photos and list of "how to" make the recipe for those of you who are kitchen challenged!  Here are my photos....

Shrimp Marinade:  The key is all that lime and orange zest and juice!
Ready for shrimp!
Soakin' up the goodness! 

While the shrimp is hangin' out, prepare Quinoa. 
My new obsession! 
Goodbye rice and couscous...
I added cilantro...
Shrimp is ready for the hot pan!
Look at that zest and cilantro! 
It hit the pan and smelled awesome!
Nice and pink!  Don't over cook!
It is so easy to over cook shrimp! 
This shrimp is cooked on one side....see the pink edges?
Finished product!

Monday, September 27, 2010

ADORE 2....

LL Bean French Nautical Sailors Shirt .........This lovely just arrived via UPS and I promptly put it on!  Oh, I've been dreaming about it!  It's just as perfect as I expected LL Bean to be!  A million moons ago I had a boyfriend that had a mock neck, long sleeved shirt exactly like this and I stole it from him and wore the heck out of it.  It was just classic perfection. 

Well, I got the "French Nautical" bug the other day and all my memories of Troy and his shirt came flooding back.  AND, I got this ridiculously awesome big soft navy blue knit, open front Gap cardigan  that will go magically with this.  Oh, and should I even mention the white jeans?  PLEASE!!!!!!!!  Some ballet flats?  A sassy scarf?  Hello Lake Geneva girls outfit is perfection.  Who doesn't love Fall when you can begin to transition to long sleeves and sweaters and shoes and socks and jeans?  LOVE IT!

The quality of this shirt is fabulous.  It was only $30!  You wouldn't believe the quality AND I got free shipping.  What clothes are you excited to pull out for the change in season? 


Things seem to stick in my memory forever.  No one in the family remembers this bowl except me.  I might have been like 10 years old or something.  But when I saw this "modern mushroom" enamel bowl back in the day I remember it did something to me.  I love the boldness, the simplicity.  Everything about it just spoke to my design aesthetic........even way back then. 

Well, fast forward 25 years or so and I had completely forgotten about this bowl.  I first laid eyes on this beauty at our family go-to cottage we referred to as the "Harbor House."  My mom's friend Gail put some lovely salad of some kind in this bowl and brought it to one of our many gatherings at her cottage (the Harbor House), which always involved lots of good food.  I think it actually stayed at the Harbor House on a shelf and with each visit I would notice it.  

Gail  has a very cool style herself and when I would go to her house as a kid I would pretend it was my house.  I swear I even remember the way it smelled.  I remember her "real deal" fine art on the walls and her Scandinavian design furniture.  I even remember her husband Vernon and the red Lacoste cardigan he had.  I secretly wanted that sweater.  Last year I found the exact same sweater for my hubby for $7 at Goodwill.  ALSO, to add to this whole crazy story....Vernon made homemade mushroom soup with morel mushrooms at the Harbor House one summer.  This bowl has a morel on it.  I mean REALLY!!!!!!

So when my Dad died (hard to believe I'm saying this) NINE years ago....time goes by so quickly....alive or dead.....together or not together.  My heart has healed in so many ways but just the most simple thing and I sometimes find myself pulling at the thread and letting myself go.....sinking into that loss....that missing and longing.  But hey, that's another post!  So after the funeral and the influx of food that you receive when someone dies, my mom found this bowl in her possession.  She hung onto it for a long, long time and no one claimed it and she couldn't figure out who it belonged to. 

So one day I saw this on a shelf in her basement and I once again launched into my Gail, Harbor House, mushroom enamel bowl story and she said...."For the love of God, take it!  Take it!  You will appreciate it and love it."  Well, she was right.  I just found this again in my cupboard and decided it needs to be out on the counter.  Because it just makes me so happy.  And when something so silly and simple does that to you, you gotta go with it! 

Just for fun as I write this post I did a e-bay search for "enamel mushroom bowl" and found it's bidding for $81.00 !!!!!  It's described as LG Arabia Finel Finland Kaj Franck Enamel Mushroom Bowl.  I kept asking my mom if it was Gail's and she said no.  Hmmmm, I still want to talk to her about this!  Maybe it is hers after all and it is in my hands for a reason!  : )  Vernon is no longer with us either but maybe him and my Dad are having homemade mushroom soup and an ice cold beer somewhere together and reminiscing about the beloved Harbor House.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Homemade Granola.....worth it!

Everyday Granola  Start with the best (Quaker of course!) Not the quick cooking kind, but the old fashioned kind.
Add some coarsely chopped pecans.  Again......the pecans are pricey but worth it.  I got a bulk bag from Costco for $10 and have a lot left over.
Penzeys Spices  Also the best!  I got this from my BF Bobbi for my birthday.  Spices as a gift for someone who loves to cook or bake are the best idea!  I love that the bottle says "Extra Fancy!"  How excellent is that?  It makes me happy!
Here it is!  Oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, coconut, salt.........ready for mixing!
After the honey and oil has been added you simply put on a lined cookie sheet and toast up!
Just go ahead and double the batch because you will regret NOT doing it! 
After you bake the mix, add in some dried fruit.  I got this bag of cranberries, cherries and apples at Costco for around $8.00. 
I learned about this recipe from a book a I was reading called A Homemade Life  by Molly Wizenburg.  She has a fantastic (and super popular) blog called Orangette.  She also has a column in Bon Appetit magazine called Cooking Life.  I became enthralled by her book and blog and latest restaurant venture in Seattle called Delancey.  I have become rather obsessed with books about the food industry, cooking, eating, etc.  The universe might be speaking to me and let me tell ears and heart are open!  What does it all mean? 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes....

A good excuse to use green tomatoes from the garden!  These are delicious!  Dipping them in the buttermilk is key!  And who doesn't love panko?  (Japanese style bread crumbs)  I bought pre-made polenta and fried up some cakes....
And then I forgot to take photos of the finished product!  But I took a polenta cake, put a fried green tomato on top with some grilled onion and red peppers and a dab of store bought tomato chutney.  I served this with my spicy curried butternut soup.  They were easy and turned out great.  My husband and I love to come up with menu prices for all the items I make at home!  This would be a great appetizer and we agreed we would pay $7.50 or more for these babies!  : )

Bountiful Harvest....

We are not sure why that one is pink but it's cool!  They smelled so fresh and wonderful and apparently root veggies are easy to grow!

We have a nice assortment, but since I didn't label them I am not sure what varieties I have here!  All I know is that the banana peppers are H-O-T!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I can't look away....

The Anderson family has advanced from the dark ages.  We recently had a 22 inch old school T.V. because our old big tube T.V. died.  So our "new" replacement was just an old tube T.V. from hubby's parents which we were thrilled with!  No "forcing us" to upgrade to a flat screen which meant ALSO getting rid of the old school entertainment center too....which is all just costly.  So the red head decided to "clean" the old/new T.V. and it died.....(she sprayed cleaner on the glass and it leaked somewhere that killed it) 

So for many months (I've lost count) we've been using what we like to call "baby T.T."  (my nephew Liam used to refer to T.V. as "T.T." and it's taken on a usage in our family vocabulary!)  It all didn't matter so much, as it was summer and we shouldn't be watching T.V. anyway, etc.  And the longer we waited the more powerful we felt.  We were above it all.  We didn't need a big screen.  We didn't need movies.  We would read!  We would listen to music!  It's better for the kids!  We are so superior!!!!!!!!!  (All we did was kill our eyes really because we DID watch all our same shows on the baby unit!)
But then things started to seem silly.  And ridiculous.  And we all just craved was a big fat, state-of-the-art, keep up with the Jones' sort of T.V. and stand and HD and Blue Ray and all that jazz....

So now my friends we have spent a small chunk 'o change and have a lovely mission style T.V. stand and 55 inch Sony T.V. with Blue Ray and DVD player.  We got new HD Dish receivers and HD programming.  We are all that and a bag 'o chips!!!!

Can I say it's changed my life?  Well, sure it is nice.  Very nice.  It seems unreal that we ever had that little teeny tiny T.V.  The kids are amazed.  We rented "Earth" by Disney and they were enthralled!  They sat still and squealed and squawked with delight at the animals.  But is what I am here to talk about.  Bad T.V. shows that my daughter is obsessed with (that we can DVR and watch later) that I can't look away from.

Example #1:  Dancing with the Stars.  (Last season they had me at Kate Gosselin)  This year is just lame.  Yet I can't look away.

Example #2:  Kate Plus 8.  Just kill me now.  Can Kate be ANY bigger of a beotch?  And show her teets all the time?  And is it just me or does it seem like she hates her kids?  AND my kids also seem strangely intrigued with "Quints by Surprise."  HURT ME.  (Stop it now TLC.  Just. STOP.)

Example #3:  Oh, wait.......I'm about to list all my trash Bravo shows I watch......Housewives. of. any. kind.  There you have it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Abacus Action....

Let get started on today's home schooling lesson~  The abacus, also called a counting frame, is a calculating tool used primarily in parts of Asia for performing arithmetic processes. Today, abacuses are often constructed as a bamboo frame with beads sliding on wires, but originally they were beans or stones moved in grooves in sand or on tablets of wood, stone, or metal. The abacus was in use centuries before the adoption of the written modern numeral system and is still widely used by merchants, traders and clerks in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. The user of an abacus is called an abacist.

So before Christmas Lauren and her Grandmother took an all-day fun fest trip to Ikea where she got an abacus.  It's been around the house since then with no real interest from either child.  Kinda just another thing for me to step around or pick up! 

Now that pre-school has begun and Lauren goes all day, three days a week, I was expecting way more actual "learning" to be taking place.  But alas, pre-school seems like "fun-time Charlie" time.  And maybe I'll feel this way about public school too, but husband and I have decided to take matters into our own hands.  I'll work on the reading and writing to amp up the skills she already has, and hubs will work on the math side of things.  (I am not licensed!)

So Lauren got herself a little journal and every night Dad and her work on "equations."  Well I am telling you folks that if I had been given this leg up with an abacus I might function with less fear in the math world today!  Those are equations that hubs wrote down and then Lauren works them out on the abacus and writes the answers in.  It's also a good way to work on writing her numbers and learning the larger numbers.  SHE LOVES IT!  (who doesn't love attention from Dad and a special project?)  She writes her own equations down now too.  She likes to make up stuff like, "How many years until I'm 13?" So we help her turn that into an equation. 
Here she remembered that 6 + 4 = 10 without having to do it on the abacus!  We were cheering and high-fivin' like a big 'ol math geek family!  (And as hubs always says....."Geeks rule the world."  Hmmmmm.....might have to admit he's right and geeks are cool.  I heart geeks!
So it's been home schoolin' fun up in here!  Lauren is learning math, having fun, and it all takes away a bit of my disillusionment about school...