Sunday, November 7, 2010
I'm sure you've heard the expression "Cooking is an art but baking is a science." And that probably holds true for many recipes. When you bake following the recipe exactly tends to be very important. But honestly, you cannot mess up this bread no matter how much you mess with it. (Well, maybe you could ruin it if you completely forgot an ingredient.) I make substitutions ALL THE TIME based on what I have on hand or how healthy I want to be. No white flour? Substitute wheat. No white sugar? Substitute brown. Want to avoid the oil? Substitute yogurt, applesauce, etc. Or make it a combination of the two. Batter too dry? Add some milk or juice. Experiment with additional spices. I've done all of those things to the recipe and while it may alter the texture of the finished product some (especially if you do all yogurt instead of oil), it's still very, very tasty. And easy.
It's called A to Z Bread because the original recipe had fruit/veg suggestions for almost every letter of the alphabet. Here are the ones I commonly use. Feel free to ask for additional letters if you want but you're really only limited by your imagination.
Bananas, mashed (Isa loves to mash them with her hands for me!)
A to Z Bread
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
2c fruit or veg
3 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 325. Grease & flour 2 lg loaf pans OR grease 2 muffin tins.
Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
Beat eggs. Add oil & sugar; cream well.
Add fruit/veg and vanilla to egg/oil/sugar mixture.
Add dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Pour batter into pans/tins.
Bake 1 hour for loaves (until knife in center comes out clean) or ~25 min for muffins.
Monday, November 1, 2010
And what "accessory" did Princess Tiana need? Why, a frog prince, of course. We dressed up Papaw as her frog prince, which Isa thought was hilarious. Note the little crown on his hood! (And please excuse the fact that this photo was taken against the messiest wall in my house...)
First we went Trick or Treating down at the shops and restaurants in Columbia City.
Then we had pizza for dinner. I told her she could have 1 piece of candy while we waited and she chose a Tootsie Pop, but then said "all done" after only a few minutes. You can't really tell from this photo, but I'm wearing a Pink Ladies jacket.
After dinner, it was back up the hill and onto Trick or Treating in our neighborhood. Dad and I took Isa around while Mom stayed at our house to pass out candy. Despite horribly rainy conditions on Saturday (and again today), Halloween was totally dry and not too cold. I bought 2 bags of a KitKat/Reese's cup mix (75 pieces per bag) and by 8:00, we were out of candy. Much busier than last year but at least I don't have lots of candy leftover to be munching on. :)
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Earlier in the month I made a falafel and hummus and the following week it was chicken soup with leftover Ethiopian vegetables. Last week it was a spicy lentil soup (I added berbere) with toasted tortilla wedges and quark, which is sort of a cross between cream cheese and sour cream. Tonight's meal was basil stir fry over rice. Had basil, 1/2 an onion, orange pepper and green beans that needed to be used up. Rice in the pantry. Voila. Very simple but quite tasty.
There are several benefits to Surprise Me Sunday dinners. Most obvious, of course, is that the pantry and fridge are slowly becoming less cluttered. Random food stuffs don't get lost in the back of the pantry for years on end and fewer veggies mold in the fridge.
Less tangible is the boost to my confidence in the kitchen. I am not afraid to admit that I am not a great cook. I don't feel confident in my ability to experiment or deviate from recipes. And while I haven't tackled anything overly ambitious (yet!), just winging it with easy menus helps immensely. Eventually I'd like to make Surprise Me Sunday into a bit of a challenge ala Chopped. Take truly random ingredients and find a way to make them into something delicious. Or at least edible.
So stay tuned to see what surprise meal each Sunday brings!
Monday, October 18, 2010
Isa turned 3! It was hot, hot, hot (note everyone trying to stay in the shade). There was a sprinkler and butterfly cupcakes handmade by yours truly.
We went to several baseball games with Grandma and Papaw. Isa can sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" all by herself. Now if she'd just do it on camera....
And we went to the Puyallup Fair. There were fake cows to milk and real bunnies to pet.
We attended an event with our adoption agency down in Portland. It was fun to see so many other adorable habesha darlings, as well as our attorney who was visiting from Ethiopia. Isa had a blast at the Portland Children's Museum.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Solome & Isa looking lovely in their traditional dresses
Isa admiring the habesha grandma's jewelry
Our travel buddy and big-girl friend "Rusalem"
On the Monday after camp we watched my friend Amanda's daughter Kaylee for the day. Kaylee is almost 11 months and very mellow. The only snag came when she resisted naptime so I put her in the Ergo, bounced and sang to her until she fell asleep.
Confession time: I've been seriously feeling the urge for another baby lately. I blame all my friends and family who have added gorgeous babies recently. I was hoping that having Kaylee and Isa for the day would show me exactly why I don't want another baby anytime soon but she was too darn easy. Having to snuggle a little baby to sleep was so lovely. Way to make it worse, Kaylee! Luckily, there isn't a chance in hell that I'll be able to afford another adoption for many years. If money was no option, I would probably be filling out paperwork right now.
On Tuesday, I was only an hour into work when Christina called to say Isa had a fever. This is only the second recorded fever that Isa has ever had. Given her unbelievably strong immune system, I know that any fever on her means she's really sick. She had a low-grade fever all day Tuesday. The fever was gone on Wednesday, but she was still really lethargic- she even took a 4 1/2 hour nap!
Happily, by Thursday morning she was fine. Which was good because Friday night my sister got married!! Isa was supposed to be the flower girl but, in true nearly-3 year old style, wasn't able to scatter her petals properly after a couple tries at Thursday's rehearsal. Mollie doesn't think that preschooler antics during a wedding are cute, so she decided to relieve Isa of her duty. I was pretty disappointed, but honestly should have known it was going to end up that way. Isa certainly can't be relied upon to do anything properly without a fair bit of practice and even then, because of her age, remains pretty unpredictable. Fortunately, she seemed to forget that she was supposed to be party of the wedding and was a model little one sitting with her cousins during the wedding and the reception dinner. As soon as the dancing started, Isa hit the floor with her cousin Caroline (wish I'd thought to put my camera in the diaper bag so I could show you pictures of those two!). She danced from about 8 until after 11. By the end she was essentially asleep on her feet but if you tried to pull her off the dance floor, she would protest loudly.
Sunday after the wedding we went to a Mariners game with my parents. Isa loves baseball, primarily because Papaw works at the stadium. Anything associated with Papaw earns high praise in Isa's book!
Up next.... a belated post on Isa's 3rd birthday and our trip to Glacier National Park.
Monday, August 2, 2010
We have a new car! It's a 2008 Mercury Mariner. I thought I'd taken a pic of the outside but now I remember that the camera batteries died right after I took the first interior shot.
More to come.....
Monday, July 5, 2010
There were lots of tears on my end about this decision, primarily because I LOVE this preschool. I love the director and teacher. I love the other kiddos. I love the location. I love the entire vibe of the school. And while logically I know this has nothing to do with my parenting, it still feels like a parenting failure that my child is the one having major tantrums. It's pretty devasting when your child has such extreme behavior issues and difficult not to take it personally. Plus-let's be honest- there's also a part of me that is selfishly sad to be losing my scheduled baby-free time each week.
The upside is that we'll have more free time again. And this summer is already grossly overscheduled and a little less running around will be good. There are lots of friends that we haven't seen in months because there just hasn't been any time to get together. Without MWF school, there will be more opportunities for my parents to take Isa for overnights. Then today we took my car into the shop for a tune-up and found out that there are some major repairs needed. For example, the left front wheel could have broken off at any point- yikes! It isn't worth putting that much money into the old car, so any saved preschool money will be used towards a new car.
The 2010 to-do list is really turning out to be a bust!
Friday, July 2, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I have a mostly great kiddo. This week not really, but in the grand scheme, she's wonderful.
I get to work from home. It can be exhausting to work at night but I like not having to be at work 8 hours a day Monday through Friday.
I have a really wonderful support system. Case in point- my parents are taking Isa this weekend so I can have a few days off.
And yet, I'm having a week where all I can do is look around and think "Is this it?". Because I feel like we're just scraping by with so many things and I'm tired of it. In the great American tradition- I want MORE. More for both of us. And quite honestly, more from myself (which would probably result in more for Isa).
I don't want a life full of different people or places or experiences. I guess I just want to rearrange all the pieces into a more appealing picture. More vibrant. More awake. It's a rather daunting task and I have no idea where to even begin.........
(And now I'm hitting publish before I can erase this entire post as well!)
Saturday, May 29, 2010
2 - more photo shoots for Chasing Fireflies (this time for the holiday catalog)
ETA- Okay, I have tried about 12 times to fix the messed up paragraph formatting/spacing. For some reason what I see in the draft is not what Blogger publishes. *sigh*
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Check out the ponytail- a full 5 inches off the top of her head! Looks like a beehive doesn't it?!?!?
Snuggling with Auntie Mollie and Soona-puppy
Looking so very stylish in her big girl underpants, rainboots and Fancy Nancy purse!
And finally, last week we watched some videos from when she was really little. Right now Isa LOVES playing "little baby" and so she, of course, wanted me to put the blanket on the ground so she could recreate the video.
The original (it's long but OH MY GOD, wasn't she cute?!?!)
The remake (okay, she's still pretty cute!)
Sunday, April 25, 2010
While I knew that this was a very diverse area, a recent article affirmed that my zip code is actually the most diverse in the entire country! During the adoption process I never had to worry about raising a black child in an all-white environment. In the larger neighborhood, whites are the minority. Plus, Seattle is a very liberal city and I never feel like we stand out. It isn't unusual to see families with two dads or children whose skintone doesn't match their parents. And while general diversity is wonderful, even more important to us is that there is also a very large Ethiopian community in Seattle. Within walking distance of our house, there are 3 Ethiopian restaurants. We eat at the closest one almost weekly and Isa will actually ask for injera if allowed to choose a restaurant for dinner. (Well, sometimes she chooses pizza, but it's pretty evenly split!) It's something small but it helps make " 'Opia" part of her normal routine.
The Ethiopian community in Seattle is a wonderful resource. Everytime we attend a community event, we are welcomed with open arms and Isa, of course, charms the pants off everyone. One organization holds bimonthly gatherings for families that include cultural presentations and dance lessons. I believe they have Amharic lessons for older children as well. Because these events are always scheduled smack in the middle of naptime, we had yet to get to one. Yesterday Isa went down really early for her nap, so I decided to wake her in time to join in. It was a blast! Isa found another 3 year old to run around and dance with.
Our block is amazing as well. The first weekend I had my house, my dad and I were painting when we heard a knock at the door. It was the neighbors bringing over freshly baked cookies (still warm) to say welcome to the neighborhood. I had no idea that people did that nowadays! Every summer there's a big block party and pre-Isa I would join neighbors to sit on their front porch in the evenings drinking and talking. We have a lovely old library, tiny cinema, a dozen or so restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines (Mexican, Caribbean, BBQ, Italian, Thai, etc), a Farmers' Market in warmer months. I've said numerous times that when we need a bigger house, I'd rather find a way to add onto this house than move.
Last Sunday was gorgeous and warm. I was reminded again why I love this neighborhood. The school playground down the block from us was swarming with families playing in the sunshine. When we got back from playing, the neighbors were out front having a picnic and Isa decided to insert herself into the fun. Gracie brought out her facepainting kit and while I went into our house to fix dinner, Isa sat next door being turned into a clown. Here is the result of Gracie's handiwork on her mother and Isa:
So, somehow I will find a way to keep paying the mortgage. Because it really is worth it.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Until June she'll be going to school Monday and Friday, 8:30-12:30. When she finishes with Wednesday morning ballet classes, she'll be in preschool Wednesday mornings as well. The school is within easy walking distance (when the weather permits, which sadly wasn't today) and I absolutely love her primary teacher. She's someone I would be friends with outside of the school in a heartbeat. Plus, her daughter is very much like Isa, so I know she's prepared to deal with Isa's over the top personality. It's ideal in so many ways.
Isa was beyond excited, although perhaps most of all about the fact that she got to bring a lunch with her. Teacher Rebecca told me that Isa grabbed her lunchbag from her cubby numerous times before it was actually lunchtime. I cut her cheese slices into heart shapes last night to make it a bit more special but I'm not sure she even noticed.
She had zero trouble saying goodbye to me which was good and bad. Much easier for me to not have to deal with tears, but sometimes a Mama does want to feel like she'll be missed! I got a little teary-eyed leaving her there. I knew it would be bittersweet. These mornings apart are going to be so good for both of us but I feel a bit guilty sending her off when I don't really need to. And it just reminds me how quickly she's growing up.
I went straight to the gym after dropping her off. It was so lovely to do a hard workout and go right home to a shower that could be as long as I wanted it to be! Then my friend Autumn came down for brunch to celebrate the big day. I have a long list of fun projects to do in my new free time and I'm going to add in a little more work as well.
Not surprisingly, Isa had a glorious time! They did artwork, made peanut butter balls, and did lots of playing. She had tons of things to tell me about her preschool and was also so thoroughly exhausted that she went down for her nap without any fuss (a bit of a problem in the last week).
On another note, for the first time today when I asked Isa to smile for a picture, she did it. And a real, nice smile not the usual cheesy face she normally makes. Nearly as exciting for me as the start of preschool.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
So, here it is:
1) Declutter & organize: okay, this is more of a "motto for the year" rather than a to-do item since I think it will be continuously happening all year long.
2) Lose 40lbs in time for my sister's wedding in August: down 10lbs already!
3) Potty train Isa: umm... I've still got 8 months, right?
4) Get Isa into preschool: DONE! She starts on Friday.
5) Cut credit card debt in half: this one is going to be a tough one. But so far I've at least stopped the outflow on the credit card. The only things I've charged this year are big things like Heritage Camp.
6) Isa's readoption: yep. Lazy me has yet to do the readoption. Isa isn't a US citizen yet and legally, she isn't even "Isa."
It isn't too daunting a list but every item is pretty darn important. I'm looking forward to checking them all off!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
They are wonderful little guys and the three kiddos really interact more like brothers and sisters than just friends a this point. It's an amazing arrangement- free childcare for both of us and a day-long playdate for the little ones.
Anyhoo.... Here is a snippet of how a good day looks- and SOUNDS- when they get together. This particular afternoon, they were giving a performance and I was the audience. It was followed by a parade which was pretty much what you see in the video, just done walking around the house. Oddly enough, despite the decibel level, this sort of child noise doesn't bother me nearly as much as electronic toy noise.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
When I met her at the ripe old age of 6 months, she already had enough hair for little tiny ponytails on the top of her head.
Within a few months, it was long enough to all go into two ponytails.
Now it's long enough to all go up in a big, poofy ponytail on the top of her head. When I make the effort to braid her hair after putting it in two ponytails, the braids are nearly 6 inches long. When I comb it out during bath time, her wet hair reaches down to her waist! (I have a picture of that somewhere, but can't find it....)
And what does all this hair mean? Why- LOTS of hair accessories, of course!!!
Today I decided to re-organize them and was shocked at just how many she has. There are:
56 plain barrettes
41 fancy (bows, twirly ribbons, etc) barrettes
15 rubberbands with fancy ends (plastic balls or flowers)
15 terry cloth bands with attached bows
7 butterfly clips in assorted sizes
(And a box of tiny colored elastics for braids- too numerous to count!)
Here they all are:
Now where in the world am I going to put them????
Sunday, March 21, 2010
5 or 6 weeks since my last post? Seriously? I hate when huge chunks of time simply fall away without my noticing them.
And the saddest thing is that there really isn't a compelling reason for the silence. Well maybe there is. Life here continues to move along at about the same pace. I am a big fan of stability and routine but it admittedly doesn't make for the best blog material. There were days I wanted to pull up the blog and thought "but what am I going to say?". Taken as a whole, our life is pretty mundane. Perhaps I ought to just post a single funny Isa quote each day. Because there are always entertaining things coming out of her mouth!
Probably the only interesting that happened in the last month was that we kicked the Find-A-Preschool campaign into high gear. Isa was on the waiting list with 1 preschool, I applied to another (haven't heard back), and a third flat out said there would be no morning openings. It wasn't looking promising. Luckily I belong to a Yahoo group for parents in my neighborhood and got a post about a new preschool opening up. The provider was doing part-time daycare but as her daughter was now 2 1/2, she was planning to transition into a preschool. I immediately responded that we'd love to come have a look. The visit was a huge success. I really felt like we were old friends just having a playdate with our children. And so I jumped at the chance to reserve a spot for Isa. It's truly ideal- easily within walking distance of the house, from 8:30-12:30, and only 3 days a week (which had proved impossible to find in our neighborhood). And, the preschool is starting up on April 9th! In the very near future I'll have free time 3 days a week and I'm just not sure what to do with myself.
I have taken barely any photos in the last couple months, which is really pathetic. And, as it is already past midnight as I type this, I'm not going to take the time to load them from the camera and then onto the blog tonight. But I promise it won't be another 6 weeks before I get them up. :)
Friday, February 12, 2010
2 years ago today....
2 years! So hard to believe. It feels like she's always been here. It's hard to remember life without her and yet the time is moving much too quickly. They've been the most difficult but by far the most joyous 2 years I've ever experienced.
(And I reposted the videos in the last post since they seemed to be so problematic for everyone. Hopefully they'll work this time.)
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Dinner the first night- pizza!
It definitely wasn't a quiet weekend.
What a trip to IKEA will do to two busy toddlers
Pretty girl meet....
Looking WAY too sophisticated
Two peas in a pod (er, log)
Elsa hearts Pelican
And a few videos to give you a very good idea of how entertaining the entire weekend was. It was a boisterous weekend, full of LOTS of talking, singing, and playing.
And, yes, in the bathtime video the off-camera dialogue of the Mamas is almost as amusing as the girls themselves. I didn't realize just how silly I sound when I'm talking with or about my child. What's with all the "we" talk?