Sunday, August 29, 2010

Homemaker Monday: How to make a shirt out of a one dollar bill

Try the new thumbnail linky today!

Welcome to the 103rd weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to Alessandra over at Ale's Random Tips. Ale (as her friends, including me, call her) is an Italian in Italy (imagine that) and her recipes always sound delicious and are usually made with fresh vegetables and other healthy ingredients. Last week she posted on how to make Crispy Eggplant, and because I love eggplant, and crispiness, but have no idea how to cook it, her title caught my eye... and so did her photo...


And just a note. Ale explains that the eggplant is sauteed in EVOO. I had no idea what that was, nor did I want to bother her with a stupid question, so I googled it, and it means extra virgin olive oil. You learn something new everyday! :)

Anyway, thank you so much, Ale, for your link and recipe. I'm going out to get me some eggplant! For Ale's post, go HERE.

MINE: You may wonder what making a shirt with a dollar bill has to do with homemaking. Well, it has everything to do with homemaking when your 10-year-old boy spends 45 minutes studying instructions and figures out how to make it himself and you then have a boy who is just a little bit smarter and has a little bit more confidence because he did something hard and fun and cool, and he wasn't watching I, Carly! Just look!


HERE are the instructions in case you would like to encourage your kids to do this, and there are tons of other origami sites out there, too. And if you really plan things out, you can purchase super-cute paper like this...


...and your kids can make some really pretty stuff. Have fun!

OURS: So what homemaking tips, recipes, or how-tos do you have? Feel free to add your link below. We're changing things up a bit and doing a thumbnail linky, which I think makes Homemaker Monday much more exciting! Tell me what you think!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Naked Baby Time!

No doubt I still have a lot to learn about portrait photography, but here's the latest baby hippo photo shoot!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to make a toddler eat a cookie in 21 bites

Whenever I have a great idea, I feel compelled to share. Yeah, that's just the kind of girl I am.

So this morning at snack time, I decided to give each of the twins one of the chocolate chip cookies the 15-year-old girl had made the night before. They were quite large, so I didn't want to give them more than one, but I knew that if I just handed each of them a cookie, they would shove them into their mouths as quick as they could, then start crying "Moe Cookie!"

This I wasn't going to tolerate. That's when the idea hit me. I would place the cookie on a cutting board, like so...


....then cut it into little tiny pieces with a steak knife, like so...


...then put the little tiny pieces in a little tiny stainless steel bowl (we have tons of these and I don't know why)...


...and they would think that they were getting 21 cookies instead of just one. This worked very well. They were super-excited about getting their stainless steel bowl full of cookie pieces and eating them one by one, and by the time they were finished, yes, they did ask for more, but I told them that that we were "all done cookies", but that they could have some bananas instead. So I cut up the banana into tiny pieces and put those in their stainless steel bowls as well.

I think this tactic would also work well for those of us who are trying to lose weight. I'm pretty sure I would savor 21 cookie pieces a lot more if I sat down with them in a stainless steel bowl, than if I shoved one whole cookie into my mouth as I'm walking by the counter on my way to take the kids to school. I'm going to try it tomorrow. Or I could just not eat the cookie at all. We'll see.


Your welcome.

Today on life in mexico {and other places} a picture a day: {oh, the humanity}

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A letter written in the sand to those who died too young...

My mother's brother, Uncle Rico, died over 22 years ago in a single-engine plane crash. He was only 40 years old. Since then, every time my mother goes to the beach, she writes him a note in the sand. It says...

"Hi, Rico"

As you probably know, my mother accompanied our family on our trip to California, then New York this summer. When we were on the beach, she wrote the word "hi", then realized that since the last time she was on a beach, two more loved ones have died.... first my husband, then her husband. So this is what she wrote...


In case you can't make it out, it says "Hi Ed, Rob, + Rico" It made me sad because all of these men shouldn't have died so young, at ages 36, 40, and 63. They each died because of lifestyle choices they made and sometimes it even makes me mad. When I visit my mom and watch my twins laugh and play, I mourn because I feel like my father should be there laughing with us. Why couldn't he have taken better care of himself and lived a longer, more enjoyable life? Yes, many say that God had a plan for him, that it was his time, but I have also come to believe that God gives us free agency, the ability to choose our path, and sometimes, due to our own weaknesses and poor decisions, we can shorten our own lives even though God would have preferred we'd made different decisions.

What do you think? How much control do we have over our own longevity? Or is it our time when it's our time. I'd love to read your opinions in the comment section.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Images From Our Trip to NY

This post is heavy with images of the 15-year-old girl, as only she, my mother, and Baby Hippo accompanied me on my trip. Hope you like!

I loved the following image because the old man in the window on the left was carefully watering the potted plant on his balcony. It was just so city-style....


Next, we have the cutest little boy on the subway. His skin was so beautiful, and completely the opposite color of Baby Hippo's. I tried to get a shot of them holding hands, but it seemed as though this toddler felt some trepidation about holding my baby's slobbery hand....


The 15-year-old girl, right before boarding the subway....


Grandma holding Baby Hippo at an Italian outdoor cafe in Greenwich Village...


Self-explanatory, and really cool...


(Nice hand, Groom.)

The Sacred Grove, in Palmyra, NY...


The 15-year-old girl, on Times Square, sporting the cap she just bought at the largest M&M store in the world!


NYPD Blue...


I loved the pleading look on this little girl's face. If you want to know what she wanted, you can go HERE.


This was the cutest little girl ever, but I could never get her to turn around and look at the camera. She still has really cute hair, though!


A completely unconquerable meal in Roxy's Delicatessen...


An old man carrying gardenias (I think) on the subway...


Manhatten, from the Staten Island Ferry...


The 15-year-old girl, smack in the middle of Times Square...


Thanks for looking!

Today on some of my other blogs...
-365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time: Mango and Toothpick Time!
-life in mexico {and other places} a picture a day: {a message in the sand to those who died too young}

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homemaker Monday: Quick Vegetarian Posole


Welcome to the 102nd weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to The Harried Homemaker at Frantic Antics of a Harried Homemaker! I just had to pick her post because she teaches us how to make freezer biscuits. I love this idea because so often I would love to pop biscuits right from the freezer to the oven, but I am always remiss to buy frozen pastries from the grocery store as they are usually laden with unhealthy ingredients, such as hydrogenated oils, preservatives, MSG, and the like. With The Harried Homemaker's recipe, however, you can make these delicious-looking rolls at home, pop them in your freezer, then bake them when the urge strikes you!


Thank you so much, Harried Homemaker, for your link and we'll look forward to hearing much more from you in the future! For the recipe, go HERE.

MINE: One of the things I love most about my mother-in-law is that she prides herself on finding the quickest, easiest and most efficient way to do something. When she attended a class on how to make posole, a Mexican soup made of different types of meat, hominy and other vegetables and spices, she was shocked to learn that from start to finish, this soup takes about 11 hours to prepare. She realized that this soup was not for her, but once she pondered upon it, she realized that she could come up with a quick version... and she did.... and it is beautiful and wonderful.... and something I, myself, would be proud to serve guests. Her version contains chicken broth and canned chicken (she bottled hers herself), so I made some vegetarian substitutions and found this version of quick vegetarian posole to be something worth making many more times. I used chick peas as the meat substitute, so you still get the protein, but none of the bad fat. Here is it, and thanks, Mom, for your fantastic, easy recipe!

Vegetarian Posole

(And thank you, Mom who raised me, for the lovely bowl you bought for me to use especially for my blogging photos!)

3 32 oz. boxes of vegetable broth
4 10 oz. can of Rotel tomatoes and chili
4 large cans of hominy (not the number ten cans, the smaller size, but not the smallest)
6 vegetarian bouillon cubes
1 package dry chick peas (or 3 cans cooked chick peas)
2 tablespoons onion powder
3 avocados, diced
A large bag of tortilla chips
Chopped cilantro
Lime halves

Step 1: If you are cooking your own chick peas, start by soaking them overnight. In the morning, drain off the soak water and cook them in a pot with twice as much water as beans for about 3 hours. During the last fifteen minutes of cooking, add 2 of the vegetarian bouillon cubes to the pot and stir until dissolved. Let simmer for a few more minutes.

Step 2: Pour off most of the water from the chick peas, leaving just enough to cover them. In a large stock pot, pour all ingredients, including the juice of the hominy, and tomatoes. Bring to simmer and simmer until bouillon cubes are dissolved, about 10 minutes.

Step 3: Place diced avocado, chopped cilantro, limes and tortillas chips in serving dishes and use to garnish.

And I have to tell you that the 18-year-old boy...


...who shuns all things vegetarian, wrote as his Facebook status, regarding the meal... "POSOLE!!! The more the better!" And then he "liked" his own comment.


OURS: Okay, I'm excited to see what wonderful tips, recipes, and how-to's you got for us today on Homemaker Monday! Thanks so much for visiting and linking up and I hope you have a great week!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Ed Said About Guacamole

My father was THE guacamole aficionado. When he went to watch the game at his friends' house on Superbowl Sunday, he would always make a very huge bowl of it to bring along. He was well-known for it and everyone expected and loved it.

Now, I will pass his teachings to me onto you. I've changed up the recipe a bit to suit my lifestyle, but it's still really good!

Ed's Guacamole

6 avocados (to learn about how to easily remove an avocado from its peel, go HERE)
The juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili-lime powder (optional)
1 regular-sized can Rotel tomatoes and green chili (optional)
1 regular-sized can of corn (optional)

Step 1. Remove the avocados from their peels and place them in a large mixing bowl...


Add salt and spices and mash with a bean masher...


Step 2. Drain the liquid from the tomatoes and corn...


...and gently mix into the avocado mixture.

And you're done. Now spoon it from the mixing bowl to a pretty bowl and enjoy!


Today on some of my other blogs...
365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time: Looking at old blog posts Time!
life in mexico {and other places} a picture a day: {a sax player down town}

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to clear a property of 21 junk cars, 2 junk buses, and tons of other junk no one wants....

So a few days ago, I showed you this photo...


These are kitchen cabinets my dad had had hauled into a "great room" (really just a covered patio with a cement floor). His ultimate plan was to turn the great room into living quarters complete with a kitchen, thus, the old kitchen cabinets.

Sadly, my father passed to his eternal rest in September of 2008, so his dream was never realized, nor would it have been had he continued to live into his old age. That's just the kind of guy he was.... a project-starter, but not necessarily a project-finisher. Many of you can relate, I'm sure. I have been known to start a cross-stitch or two and not finish, or an apron, or even purchase an old piece of furniture with plans to restore it, but never get around to it.

My father had this problem, incessantly, but with very large things, like cars, buses, building structures, and at one point, even towers (don't ask).

As I wrote in a previous post, I decided that during my stay with my mother this summer, I would tackle getting rid of my father's collections, but I had no idea how I would do it. There were many, many large things to move, even other than the cars, such as the above-mentioned kitchen cabinets, a pool table, solar panels, rusted-out engines and the like. The only work horses available were my mother, the 15-year-old girl, and myself. The other kids were to serve as babysitters and the 14-year-old boy, who would have served as indispensable help, was at football camp.

So this is how I cleared the property, one step at a time...

Step 1. Get the buses and cars hauled off...


I called an auto and truck salvage yard and told them my story. The conversation I had with the young man, who was to become quite a good friend, is written here. Here he is, incidentally (with his dog, Tashy, during a later visit)...


(P.S. The 15-year-old girl confided to me that her opinion of him totally changed once she saw him with his yipping toy dog.)

Efren is a loud, fasting-talking, cursing, border-town native who currently complains a lot about how little the salvage yard is giving him for the cars and buses we sold him, how hard it is going to be to remove the second bus because trees will have to be cut down, and that he might get bitten by a rattlesnake, and what with the helicopter air lift and hospital bill, it will cost $7000 to be treated. When he cusses, my mother and I remind him that we are ladies and that he shouldn't talk like that, but it only works for a while, so then I decided to help him find substitutes. I said, "Okay, see, the way you just called the neighbor a bad word? Instead of saying what you said, you could say what we Mormons say, 'That guy was a flipping jerk!' " He quickly repeated what I said and even tried to use it later, so hopefully we were able to help him develop into a more refined individual. That being said, he has a heart of gold and his help has been invaluable to us in selling many of the items on my father's property.

When all was said and done, after negotiations for half a day, we agreed to sell him all 21 cars and 2 buses for $2500 on condition that he remove all of them from the property. After a week and a half, he's still working on it, but we have been quite impressed with his progress. At least one of the buses is gone.

Step 2. Get rid of all the items in the garage and "great room", which included 4 couches, 3 huge computer monitors, a pool table, rusted saws, the kitchen cabinets, solar panels, very old and heavy trunks filled with Urology digests, a kitchen sink, a kitchen bar, 2 TVs, many, many pieces of lumber, lots of random metal car parts, an outdoor swing,... and that is just the beginning. Here is the great room after about 3/4 of the items were removed...


So here's what I did. I put an ad in Craig's List that we were having a HUGE yard sale and everything would be sold at $1 to $20! Everything! And I listed the items we had. I had the yard sale for four days, and over the course of these days, most of the big-ticket items were removed by strong men, and my mother was about $1000 more wealthy. You may wonder how I priced so many items. I didn't label anything. If someone wanted something, they would come up to me and ask, usually in Spanish, how much it cost. If it was large, like a sofa or a refrigerator, I would tell them $20. Most of the time they would accept this price, but sometimes, they would shew there hand in front of them and say "pppsshhh" or "Ayesshhhh" and then I would say, "Caunto quiere pagar?" which means, "How much would you like to pay?" Any number they mentioned I would say, "Bueno". Okay. Then I would watch with a quiet thrill in my chest as men and sometimes women would haul off my father's trash.

At the end of the sale, however, there was still a lot left, so I would insist that whatever they wanted was free, but that they had to fill up their trucks. Otherwise, there would be a charge. This worked well for a while, until we were really down to the slimmest of pickings. At this point, as I related in an earlier post, I told everyone who came that everything was free. This tactic helped as well, but after the last hour of the last sale, there were still some pretty big ticket items, things that would be impossible for my mother and I to lift, such as the pool table....


This is where Craig's list came in again. I listed each item individually this time, and wrote the word "FREE" in capital letters in the title. The solar panel ad went like so...

"FREE Solar Panels!

6 Free solar panels, may or may not contain copper wiring. The top one is broken and they are all in poor condition. They could probably only be used to salvage the copper wiring, if there is any copper wiring at all.

For more info, please call (my phone numbers). Thank you!"

The next day, a very nice, somewhat large gentleman in a sweaty tank top with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth came to look at the panels. I stood anxiously awaiting his decision as he told me that he was trying to find a way to heat a swimming pool he had built and thought that perhaps he could build a couple of good panels out of the combined six. I encouraged him that even if he couldn't there may be copper wiring inside, or that is what many people had said, and that copper is selling for a lot right now. He nodded in agreement, took another drag from his cigarette and agreed to take them. I almost jumped for joy! I also mentioned that we still had kitchen cabinets and a pool table if he had any interest in that, but he did not. One large item gone, several more to go.

Step 3. Get rid of the kitchen cabinets...


I could not give these things away for anything. I tried and tried, but there is absolutely no market of any kind for beat-up mustard-yellow kitchen cabinets. Now, I could have called some male friends to come and help us move them, but my pride stopped me. I was going to prove to my mother and my daughters that women can accomplish difficult tasks without the help of their male counterparts and that it feels good to do so. Yes, I could have asked John to help with the moving, but he works late and wears such nice clothes to the office and I didn't want him to have to change and get dirty and the 4 four and under would cry because he wasn't holding them, and I could go on and on.

Still, though, I couldn't figure out what to do. Then, later that evening, I saw the axe lying by the door leading to the great room and it hit me. I would hack the cabinets to pieces and the next day the kids and I would borrow John's truck, load up the wood pieces, and take the abhorrent cabinets to the dump. So I started hacking, and it was totally rewarding, and then I breastfed the baby, then I hacked some more, then the 10-year-old boy begged and pleaded to hack, so I let him, then when he got tired, I hacked some more... until there was one huge mound of broken cabinets at my feet. I felt like Hercules.

The next day, the 15-year-old girl, the 10-year-old boy and I hauled this lumber to the truck and took it to the dump. Then we repeated. It took two and a half truckloads, but we did it.

Step 4. Clear out the trash from the garage. This was simply a matter of getting two of the children to pick up item after item, haul it to the truck, then take trips to the dump. We made three more trips like this, then swept up the garage and organized boxes of my mother's winter clothes, fall and Christmas decor, and lawn-care equipment.

Step 5. Clear the one and half acre of land of lumber, scrap metal, plastic siding, tires, ammunition boxes, scaffolding, tree stumps, car hoods, 3 air-conditioning units and much, much more.


Remember the man who couldn't stop kissing my baby? Well he came back with a friend and begged and pleaded that we sell him the scrap metal my brother had had gathered into the back of a moving truck. We refused his pathetic price offer, knowing it was worth probably ten times that amount. Then, after talking with his friend for a few minutes, he made us an offer we couldn't refuse. He said he would clear our property of all trash in return for the scrap metal. This was a dream come true! The problem of my mother and I hauling the metal to the scrap yard, then paying someone to clear the property had been solved by this lovely man in one feel swoop! My mother agreed and the clearing of the property continues daily as I write.

Step 5. Sell the RV.

My father bought the RV for $2500. We never went anywhere in it. We weren't sure it would take us where we wanted to be, so we simply used it as a guest house when my mother's house was filled to capacity at Christmas time.

Again, I listed it on Craig's List, but had to decrease the price from $4200 to $3000 over the course of the week. Finally, after I had posted the $3000 listing, a lovely family with three children came over to take a look. They had recently bought some land, but had no house to live in and thought an RV would be perfect. I agree that it would, especially since it had exactly five sleeping areas with would be perfect for their family of five. In the ad I had stated that it had no battery and that the ignition didn't work, so after approving the inside, the father bought over his father, who only spoke Spanish, and they got to work. After several hours, they made the thing go and gave my mother the negotiated price of $2500.

My mother breathed a sigh of relief as they drove off, but was stunned as she watched them immediately pull over onto the side of the road a few seconds later. She was horrified that the RV had broken down and that they would be wanting their money back. When she stepped out into the street to see what the problem might be, however, she saw that they had gotten out and were dusting the outside of the RV with feather dusters. Talk about pride of ownership. I hope they love their little home for a long time to come.

After selling the '61 VW convertible that didn't run for $2500, my mother came out $8000 richer and with a little better feng shui on her property.

Next step, clearing my father's barn with all of his wood-flooring supplies. And yes, this is a full-sized barn, filled to the ceilings with construction material, old stoves, an arcade game and millions of other pieces of random junk. Wish me luck!

Honestly, I was a bit worried that once I came home I would feel depressed and bereft of something to look forward to, but after dealing with my father's trash, I have become motivated to clean out every single drawer and closet in my house so my children will never have to deal with what we dealt with.

It. Feels. Great.

Oh, and just in case you don't know how lovely my mother is...

Photobucket you know.

(I love how her hair is the same color as Baby Hippo's.)

Thanks for listening!

Today on some of my other blogs...
-life in mexico {and other places} a picture a day: {john deer}
-365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time: RV-Exploring Time!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Musical Children

I had a happy experience first thing this morning. As I walked out of the shower just a little after 7:00, I heard the 15-year-old girl playing Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag on the keyboard in her bedroom, accompanied by Twin A playing the harmonica in his crib.

What a wonderful world. :)

Oh, and I also wanted you to know that I just can't get enough of the 5-month-old boy, AKA "The Fat One", "The Fatling", "The Fat Lard", "Tubbo", "Chubby", and "Baby Hippo"...


Thanks for listening.

Today on my other blogs...

-life in mexico {and other places} a picture a day: {sleeping with glow sticks}
-365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time: Phone Time!
-Fotografia Colonia: Savannah - 9 days old

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Homemaker Monday: Twin Speak

Welcome to the 101st weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to Red Ted Art at "Red Ted's Art Blog"! This awesome mom actually linked two posts last week (which any of you are welcome to do at any time) and I just had to show you both of them. First she posts about how she preserves her kids' art on canvas. For that how-to, go HERE.

Then, she posts about how to make the cutest flannel cupcakes. They could be given away at a bridal or baby shower, or just used as a stocking filler. For that how-to, go HERE.

I would have loved to show you pictures, but her's were encrypted, so I couldn't steal them from her blog. You'll just have to go and see!

Thank you so much, Red Ted Art, for your links and your inspiration. We'll look forward to hearing a lot more from you in the future! And please feel free to take the "I Was Featured" button from my left sidebar. Thanks again!

MINE: Today I will blog 30 words my 2-year-old twins say and what they mean, for the benefit of those who care for them, and perhaps to help you understand 2-year-old speak....


1. Beenie - Blanket
2. Bee - Bird
3. Mmmmm - Moon
4. Blum-blum - Pantalones (Pants)
5. Blah-blah - Paleta (Popsicle)
6. Eenaw - Ice Cream
7. Bee-bop - Lollipop
8. Daw - Dog
9. Yo-yo - Cereal
10. Awnie - Orange
11. Wahway - Strawberry
12. Roni - Moroni (a prophet who lived in the Americas around 400 AD)
13. Gee - Jesus
14. Rella - Graciela (a good family friend)
15. Poo-poo-pee - Poopie
16. Eee - Horsie
17. Dapa-Dama - Grandpa and Grandma
18. Dunnow - Gunner (Grandma's rottweiler)
19. Awah - Agua (Water)
20. Taow - Star
21. Poon - Spoon
22. Nigh nigh - Good night
23. Ahlow - Phone
24. Yow - Car
25. Yowey - Story
26. Abba-du - Apple juice
27. Doe-doe - Joseph
28. High-um - Hyrum
29. Wye-buh - Ride bus (see HERE)
30. No Mommy Poo-poo-pee, Dama poo-poo-pee! - I don't want Mommy to change my poopie diaper, I want Grandma to change my poopie diaper! (Yeah, I love that one.)

OURS: Okay, I can't wait to read all of the wonderful homemaking adventures you've had this past week. Thanks so much for visiting and for linking up. Have a great Homemaker Monday!