Monday, November 1, 2010

In Love

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Last week was difficult. I think it’s because the little one was just coming into a cold, and wasn’t sleeping well. This week, both kids have a twinkle back in their eyes, and the whining has gone way, way down.


I love seeing how the kids play. Siu Jeun is all about exploring, poking, prodding, taking apart and stacking it back up. Just to knock it back down.  I love seeing his fat little feet, padding across the floor. Or on tip-toes, if he’s especially curious.


Ming Wai, on the other hand, only needs an empty table or windowsill to be happy. She will happily talk to imaginary friends for up to half an hour, serving them tea or instructing them in the proper way to care for sick cats. I love listening to her chatter. She’s so shy, I think there are only a handful of people who have ever heard one of her monologues. They’re impressive. They’re almost always surprising. She is growing up so fast.


And, today, I’m in love.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Afternoon of Apples



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And thus ended 40 pounds of organic apples from Eastern Washington. I loaded the apple peeler thingy. Ming Wai operated the crank. Siu Jeun dumped the apples into the biggest post I own…and taste tested every other apple for freshness. Because he’s just a giver like that.  IMG_7483

Friday, October 22, 2010

An Outdoor Sort of a Birthday

When my daughter, Ming Wai, turned four a few weeks ago, I was sort of torn. On the one hand, I am simply not the type of person to spend triple digits on a color-coordinated, catered, entertainment filled birthday bash for a kid who can’t read, and whose favorite game is Kick the Box Until it Falls Apart. On the other hand, it seemed a shame to give up a perfectly good excuse to eat cupcakes with our friends.


So, I compromised.


We met up with a few friends, and a few cousins, at a local park just behind our house. I loaded a birthday banner, some cupcakes, and some snacks into the stroller, and away we went!


It turned out to be quite a chilly, foggy morning, but we all had a really great time I think. And I was right about Ming Wai – she’s thrilled if there’s cupcakes, and over the MOON if someone will sing to her before she eats it.


I didn’t want to tell people NOT to bring gifts, since I knew she was looking forward to them, but I was really REALLY hoping this wasn’t going to turn into a big Plastic Love Fest. (You know what I’m talking about, right? One girl has a birthday party, and all the other girls bring her inexpensive plastic toys, which are broken or lost within a week. Unfortunately, this means that you must reciprocate when the other girls have their birthday parties. Or that seems to be the trend anyhow.) That was what I was worried about. And it wasn’t what happened! Ming Wai’s friends have brilliant mommies, and they all brought thoughtful, useful handmade gifts.



It was an absolutely lovely little playdate in the park!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the Eyes of a LoLo


The other day, I was playing around with the camera, and decided to take pictures of eyeballs. (Yes, really.) I hear, quite often, that Ming Wai and I have the same color eyes. I think they’re just a tad different. (Her eye color, however, is identical to my mother’s.)


What do you think?


(Ming Wai)


(Aunt LoLo) (*sob* When did I lose my smooth skin?!)


(Siu Jeun. He’s got Dad’s eyes. ;-))

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Garage Sale Chair

Don’t you just love it when things just sort of work out? A few weeks ago, our neighborhood held its annual Everybody Have a Garage Sale day. It wasn’t as busy as some other neighborhood-wide Garage Sale Days I’ve been to, but we found some rather lovely things to take home! My favorites, though, were from a house just up the street. I think the woman had been culling through every thrift store in a 50 mile radius to gather everything up for her sale. Which doesn’t make sense, but there you go. Maybe she really likes to sell stuff! (Case in point: I found a Club aluminum covered roaster pan, in a beautiful robins egg blue. It’s vintage, and gorgeous, and had a Goodwill sticker on it: $9.99. She sold it to me for $5, no bartering needed.)


My other find there? This.


We found the perfect chair for our front room. It’s got very traditional lines, and a grey Asian print. Love it! It’s exactly what we were looking for. The front of the house is…difficult. I have huge, chunky “rustic” dining furniture, along with all of our art we brought back from China. So, if China had a Western style lodge…in the suburban Pacific Northwest, I suppose this is what it would look like! (Eh?!)IMG_7356 


Other chairs we’d looked at, new, were between $200 and $2,000. (I didn’t say we looked seriously at all those chairs. Just that they crossed our path!)


This beauty only set us back $20. Perfect!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Put that Pet to Work!

What do the goldfishes dream ?

(Photo from Flickr, here.)


I had dinner with a group of old high school buddies last weekend. We had an absolutely fabulous time, and sat around the dining table for four hours eating jambalaya, chocolate pots and guzzling virgin Mint Juleps.


Our hostess was quite the domestic goddess, and has filled her apartment with beautiful things, and her balconies with beautiful plants. On her counter, I spied one lovely little goldfish, in a small simple bowl. When I asked about him, she replied that his name was Umm, and he was named by her two year old niece. He was also a rather productive member of the household. How? His tank water!


Apparently, the day he was bought went something like this:

Kate: Can I have a goldfish?

Clerk: Umm…yes? How many do you want?

Kate: How many can I have?

Clerk: *confused* How big is your tank?

Kate: *holding hands about nine inches apart*

Clerk: Ma’am, you can have one.

Kate: Oh, ok. Uhh…if I want to take water out of his tank, and replace it, how much water can I take at once?

Clerk: *more confused*

Kate: Like, can I take out half of his water and replace it? Two thirds?

Clerk: *blank stare*

Kate: See, I want it for my plants…



Eventually, she figured out that she could leave the fish in a small bowl of water while she removed the rest of the water, and then refill the tank with that bowl of water, plus fresh rested water from the tap. (She leaves the new water in a pitcher for a few days, to let the chemicals come out, before she puts it into the fish tank.)


The old fish water is then put into her watering can and used to water her gorgeous houseplants that week. Apparently, plants love nitrogen-rich fish water, and goldfish are particularly prolific in the poop department…resulting in particularly fantastic and nitrogen-rich water. Who knew?!


Now? You do. And I bet you can guess who’s going to go buy a goldfish soon…


(And hey! Christmas is coming! Go get your kids a pet that is USEFUL!)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How NOT to Help a Potted Lemon Tree

A few months ago, my husband and I were doing some Yard Plant shopping together. As I strolled through aisles and aisles of perennials and annuals, my husband called across the square, “Honey! You have to come smell this!” It was a Dwarf Meyer Lemon tree, and it smelled amazing. Best part?  It was half off. So, for a meager $30 we brought the thing home.


It had a rough start at our house. First off, the stress of the move caused the tree to throw most of its fruit. Two months later, we went on vacation and left the tree to fend for itself. During the hottest week of the summer. Oops. When we got back, I gave it a good long drink. The tree threw all of its fruit, and half of its leaves for good measure.


Determined to do better, I studied the plant. The roots were beginning to show through the soil on the top. Surely, this was a sign of bad parenting, right? I dug around in the garage and came up with a bag of MiracleGrow moisture managing soil, a third full. My mother swears by this stuff, and dumps bags of it into her large garden every year, with spectacular results. I scooped out handfuls of the rich, black soil and lovingly patted it into the pot, covering up the (obviously inferior) soil the nursery had given this poor tree. It looked like a mixture of sand and sawdust, and held water like a sieve. No wonder my tree couldn’t keep its fruit! It was dying of thirst!


You know where this is going, right?


A few weeks later, as our pathetic Seattle Summer began to come to a close, I took pity in our citrus-y friend, and brought it indoors. My bathroom has a large (opaque) West-facing window next to the tub…and the tub is rarely used. I thought it would be a perfect home-away-from-home for the tree, to weather out the cold, dreary winter.


Then I noticed the bugs.


Shortly after that, it was the mold.



I think it was a mixture of fruit flies and fungus gnats. Or maybe the fruit flies were just interlopers, lured away from the kitchen (and its own infestation) by the Gnat Shindig going on in our bathroom? I did research. And then some more. And then I pondered. And then I realized what had happened.


First off, Meyer Lemon trees need sandy, well-drained soil. So that awful sandy soil the tree came with? Was perfect. Fungus gnats, on the other hand, need moist soil. Which, obviously, the MiracleGrow was. Oh, and fungus, of which we apparently had an abundance. Someone, on a forum somewhere, suggested that sprinkling cinnamon on the soil would kill the fungus, and thus starve out the fungus gnats.


Perhaps I’m not patient enough, but all I ended up with was a cinnamon scented bathroom that seemed to say Hi! I’m your consolation prize! Enjoy your gnats! It did smell lovely, though.


After much more pondering, I decided surgery was in order. I lugged the tree back down the stairs and out the back door. I pulled out my gardening gloves, and got to work scooping out all of the MiracleGrow soil, right back down to the sandy soil. Roots showing and all. (Oh, and as it turns out, the soil on a Meyer Lemon tree should just BARELY cover the roots. Otherwise your trunk will rot. Bet you didn’t know THAT, did you??!) That dirt was then put into the compost “Death Star” to aid in the decomposition endeavors, and the tree was put into the garage next to a South-facing window. In isolation, if you will. 


It has been a week now, and there is not a gnat, fruit fly or any other winged beasty in sight.


Hindsight is 20/20, right?? *sigh*

Friday, October 8, 2010

Single Dad Laughing: Memoirs of a Bullied Kid

Single Dad Laughing: Memoirs of a Bullied Kid

Everybody. Go read this. Now. I'll wait. (It's long, and seems rambling, but it's SO important.)


I don't have a lot to add. Anybody who's ever been bullied, ever given birth to a child in the past 18 years, or ever worked with children needs to read this. It's important.

I have two children, who I adore. Neither one is old enough to join the education system yet. I do work with school aged children, though, as a piano teacher. You can bet that I will be taking the time to really talk to the kids. To tell them how great they're doing. To let them know how much I enjoy teaching them.

We have to do our part. And we have to do it today.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Celebrate: The Husband

Hello, mamas. I have this crazy idea. I want to Celebrate. I want to celebrate lots of things…and if I don’t want to, I want to celebrate until I FEEL like celebrating. There are things that are easy for me to celebrate – my husband/best friend, living close to family, and rainy fall weather. (Yes, really.) There are other things that are harder to celebrate…but I’m going to celebrate them until I remember that it’s true. I’m not going to tell you this things right now because, frankly, I’m embarrassed. We’ll get to those later.


So, I’m going to start with something easy. My husband. Nearly 6 years ago, I was in a choir, and I was showing off, and I was sassy…and I met my match. I met my best friend. He could stand up to my teasing, and he could ignore it or throw it back. He went shopping with me and carried my bags…containing nail polish and hair spray. He was everything I was looking for, and everything I didn’t know I wanted. We were married later that same year, and started our family soon after. Now he’s not only my husband, he’s Daddy to two little kids who adore him. He’s incredible in those awkward First Impression scenarios. He’s a sharp dresser, and frequently lends me his skills. (Read: He takes me shopping and picks out my clothes. I’m hopeless when it comes to clothing myself.) He loves to play video games…which fits in rather nicely with my little blogging habit. He calls his mother every. single. day, and I know that he’ll teach his children to do the same for me.

Housewives, how do you celebrate your husbands? What do you love about him? Leave a comment, write a post and link back, or drop me a line. Think about it. If things aren’t perfect, tell us about the good stuff. Tell us what you love.  Nobody, and no thing, is perfect. But let’s give this a shot.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow…..

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All in all, fairly well. I forgot to stake my tomatoes…and my Meyer lemon tree is throwing its baby lemons off, left and right. My basil flowered, and my hydrangeas look a little sunburnt. Still, for our first year in the space…I’m rather pleased!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Showing: Pretty


Still Showing. This time…Showing Pretty.

A new skirt (Nordstrom Rack) with a tank that’s several years old (Target), a shrug from a dress that makes me feel like a princess (Dress Barn), red shoes my daughter tried on and I fell in love with (clearance, Dress Barn) and jewelry my parents brought back from a cruise.

Being told you look like a Movie Star at church?


(Mamas, please play along! Do something that makes you feel pretty…and then let me know in the comments. I’m doing these posts to play along with another bloggy friend who is trying to show…she’s still Her, she’s still Hot, and she’s still Here, at home, waiting for her husband at the end of the day. You know, in case he forgets while he’s at work.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Food as Family History

This video is long (about 9 minutes, 45 seconds) but I really enjoyed it. In case you don't have 9 minutes ad 45 seconds to devote to watching YouTube...I'll break it down for you.

Miss Schenone had a deep rooted jealousy for people with old "family recipes", and she wished that she could unearth one. As it turns out, she could. Kind of. Miss Schenone had a grandmother, named Adelle Giza (I have no idea how to spell that, but it's pronoused Ah-dell Jee-zuh). Adelle used to make ravioli, using an enormous 3 foot rolling pin and a lot of elbow grease. By the time Miss Schenone developed an interest in things Family History related, Adelle Giza had already passed on, leaving behind only the memory of her ravioli...and an enormous rolling pin. Through three separate trips to the mountainous regions of Italy, Miss S. learned how to make ravioli using this enormous rolling pin, plus Grandma's ravioli cutter (unearthed by a kind cousin). She made ravioli every day for a month before she could say that she had mastered the recipe. And now? It's hers. She can make up that little bit of family history every day if she wants to.

It got me thinking - what foods have I got that could serve as Family History? My grandmother, on my mother's side, was a master at...well, I'm not sure what you call it. She's the lady that could throw together Jell-O salad like nobody's business...and a mean casserole....everything from a can or a box. My favorite recipe from her, though, would have to be her tuna sandwiches. She grew up on a sharecropping farm in Alabama. Cans of tuna were, relatively, expensive. Eggs, apples, pecans...those all grew, for nearly free, around the yard! Her tuna salad was about 1/3 tuna, and 2/3 chopped apple, nuts and boiled eggs. It's divine.

What recipes do you have, lurking in your grandmother or mother's recipe files?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Bit o' Thrifting Fun

(Whee!!!! Just found this post, that I started in APRIL. Thought I might as well get it out there. heh.)

Just a quick, fun idea for those of you with little "Princesses" at home. My little girl loves "tea parties." Fortunately, for me, she has a very loose definition of a Tea Party. Small slices of bread, cheese and lunch meat, placed on a cutting board with sliced voila! Tea Party.

I wanted to maker her very happy one afternoon, so I told her to grab her piggy bank and load into the car. We went off to our local thrift store, and headed for the housewares section. We found just what I was looking for - scads of mismatched teacups and other nice things. We found these pretty cups, half off, plus that lovely little creamer. (Have you guessed yet? It's her "teapot", and does its job nicely. Most teapots are simply too bulky and heavy for a three year old to safely use.) She spent about $3, I believe, and bought herself two tea cups, two saucers and one little creamer.

Nice things, and a lesson on Money, all in the same day? That's pretty good, my friends. 
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Getting Real About Food

Hi! I'm Liz, also known as "Ice Cream" over at my regular, and very neglected, blog: My Ice Cream Diary. I'm a tired mom to 5 awesome kids, I'm a bit kooky and I like to make messes, not clean them, I've been changing diapers without a break for the past 13 years, I'm a daydreamer, and I eat ice cream on an hourly basis. Aunt LoLo has asked me to guest post about a little food experiment I'm trying. I'm not good at long term commitments so I hope you will all encourage me and help me get through this.

I love Cheetos. Man, do I love Cheetos. I love high sodium, multi-sugared, overly processed, chemically treated, junk foods. I'm just that kind of girl. The other night, though, while grocery shopping with my husband (during date night, which is something I swore I would never do...) we found ourselves in the snack isle debating whether or not to get a box of Hostess Ding Dongs. Mr. Hotness, that's my husband, was saying that he used to love Ding Dongs but that the older he got the more chemical and processed they tasted. I told him that I solved that problem by freezing them. When eaten cold they taste more "real." We both laughed about how gross that was and walked on, leaving the "chocolate" and "cream" filled goodness on the shelf.

Last Saturday I was buying yogurt, a dairy product naturally thickened by the live cultures that live in it. I had to spend an extra two minutes reading the labels in order to find a brand that didn't contain gelatin. Gelatin is powdered bone, you know, the stuff used to make Jello and fruit snacks? Cheater companies use gelatin to thicken yogurt so that they don't have to wait as long for the natural cultures to mature. But if you aren't getting the good-for-you cultures then why even bother eating the gloppy stuff?

Why am I rambling on about all this weird food stuff? Because Aunt LoLo asked me to, that's why. Actually, these two events made me think about all the random chemicals I've been eating lately and led me to try a little experiment. I've decided that for one month I will only eat real food. If I don't know what it is, or if I can't buy the individual ingredients in my grocery store, then I won't eat it.

For instance, I made homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert tonight. The only thing preventing me from eating one is the soy lecithin in the chocolate chips. Soy lecithin is a chemically refined byproduct of soybean oil manufacturing that works as an emulsifier. I've read varied opinions about it but because I can't just buy it in the grocery store I'm choosing not to eat it. Baking soda is a chemical leavening agent that can also be used as a deodorizer and an abrasive cleaner, but I can buy it at the store so I'm letting it pass. Hypocritical? Maybe, but this is my experiment so I get to make the rules.

Will I loose lots of weight doing this? That depends on how cheap and lazy I am. I can eat doughnuts, cookies, buttered popcorn, ice cream, and even candy bars, but I have to make them from scratch, or pay the ridiculous high prices for commercially produced pure foods (which rarely taste that good). This isn't about weight loss, though. This is about eating real food. And it shouldn't be that hard to do.

Now I'm off to watch Charlton Heston in Soylent Green for motivation. "People! It's made out of people!"

And check it out! Mr. Hotness made me a few chocolate chip free cookies! I love that guy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Introducing: Liz, of My Ice Cream Diaries

Everybody, meet Liz - The Ice Cream Diarista. Liz, meet everybody.

There. Now, don't you feel better?

Liz spreads her fabulous brand of Mommy And General Life Wisdom over at My Ice Cream Diaries. I first met Liz when her family moved away from my Hometown, into my New Town. (Hehe...leeeetle joke. My church met in Newtown. heh.) Small world, right? To make the world even smaller, it turns out that Liz and her crew lived within a mile of my grandfather, back in my hometown. Add to that the fact that her two youngest children were the same age as my two children, AND that they played Really Really Well together...and you've got the basis of our friendship. The additional treat of finding a friend who both blogged AND was a crafter? dear, dear just doesn't get much better than that. Oh, the hours we spent huddled on my couch trying to teach ourselves how to make granny squares.....or the middle-of-the-night sewing playdates where we tore old clothes apart and put them back together, Frankenstein-style, to make clothes for our daughters....or the time she showed up hours after the sun went down to help me clean my house after the movers had taken all of our belongings away...good times, y'all. Very, Very Good Times.

 And now I've moved away from that New Town, back to my Hometown, and she's moved away as well, on to bigger (and beachier) adventures in North Carolina. I'm seeing a North Carolina vacation in my future.....but that is neither here nor there. Right now, we are introducing Liz!

This morning, on Facebook, I saw that Liz had announced a month-long Real Food Experiment. I begged her to come on over to Suburban Housewife Uprising and share her journey with us. I'll let her explain her experiment...but I'm really excited to see how this month goes. I told my husband about it, and while he was really happy for our friend, he responded, "That's going to be EXPENSIVE. The more processed the food is, the cheaper it is." I think that, right there, is why Cheez Doodles are considered a starch, and ketchup is counted as "fruit and/or vegetable" in our school lunches.

Please help me make Liz feel welcome!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Berries and Jam!


Maid Myrnie and her Mystical Pots


Raspberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam


Exquisite Strawberry Jam

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Did you know, dear friends, that if two sisters, with similarly aged children, combine forces for a morning, they can achieve miracles?

For example…canning. My two hooligans play remarkably well with my twin sister’s two rascals. We’ve found that if we combine the four of them, they can go missing for hours, only coming out when someone needs a snack. We’ve also found that, given two sets of hands, an ample kitchen, and a lack of hooligans and rascals, two sisters can put up quite a bit of jam in a morning!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Showing off? Showing him? Showing me? (And a word of warning. I’ve been watching a BBC production of Emma tonight, so this entire post, in my head, is in a lovely lilting English accent. Try reading it that way, and my twisted words may make more sense.)

Here’s the deal: A blogger is embarking on a journey. She would like to remind herself, and perhaps her husband (*ahem*) that she is…pretty. That she is still…her, if that can make sense. And that she is still his. (They’ve hit a rough patch, and watching them get through it is truly inspiring.)

There are certainly days when I forget that I am me. Those days, I am Mom. I get up when the baby cries, clean when the kids spill their milk or dump their cereal on the floor. I cook when they are hungry, and intercede when they threaten to hurt each other.

And yet…that’s not what I am. I am, first, me. I love to create, to be in charge, but not so in charge that anything major will ever be my fault. Unless it goes well, of course. Then I want all the accolades the world can spare!

Perhaps more importantly, I am a wife. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not saying that to bury Me. I am saying that because I married my best friend, and with him, I CAN be Me. With my kids? Not so much all the time. I am my husband’s partner in this journey. I am the half that stays in the home, the keeper of the hearth. I spend all day with the children, trying to teach them to be Good People. I’m the half that is his, and he is mine. We are in this together. And it is Us. And our Kids. And some day it will be Them. With Their Kids. And then, it will just be Us. Again.

So, to that end, I’ve decided to play along with my fellow blogger.

Of course, it didn’t go well at first. Not well, at all.

Today, she suggested that we do something extravagant, and lovely, with our eyes. Since they are my favorite feature, I was excited! I took my shower, pinned my hair into submission, and did up my eyes in a sort of “smoky eye”, in blues.

It was a bit much for 9:30 in the morning…but it was all for fun.

Then I tried to take a picture. And I tried again. And…again. And then half a dozen more times.

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Hello freaky, crazed Eye Lady!

And if you’ve never known someone, well, with hazel eyes, you might not know that our eyes can change color! It’s true. If that eye shadow had a bit more red in it, my eyes would be quite green. As it is, blues bring out the brown in my eyes.

Luckily, my sister came by in the evening, and agreed to take a shot for me. It took her another dozen shots, but we finally caught one where I didn’t look like I was either about to eat the camera, or melt it with my laser vision.



PS – Smizing is not as easy as Miss Tyro Banks makes it look!

Would anyone else like to play along?