Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I'm so excited to be going home today. God willing we will be home by Christmas Eve. My parents do not have internet so I might be MIA for a while, but I wish you all a wonderful holiday! I will be back for my Tuesday's pick of the week and will do my best with posts! See you all in the New Year!

I leave you with one image that I just love.
Everybody should have a little hideaway spot.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday's book of the week

Just in time for the new year, 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and illustrated by Joelle Jolivet, will surely delight children of all ages and perhaps even brush up your own math skills. Now this book is large format. I mean huge, I believe it is 11 x 14 inches so it makes for a great book to read as a group. The premise is one that teaches children both math and environmental awareness. On Jan 1 a family receives a strange package that contains one penguin and will continue to receive a penguin for each day of the year, hence the title 365 Penguins. Chaos quickly ensues as the family has to learn how to live and care for so many penguins. Also brought to question is who exactly keeps sending them. The illustrations are so exquisite, I am a sucker for books that use only 2-3 colors. I immediately gravitated towards this book when I saw it 2 years ago and cannot wait to show Emma when I arrive back home in Tampa. Half of my collection is still back home, because needless to say I collect children's books.

lets go back in time

skirt and sweater gap
tights, Zutano
boots, Stride Rite
curious about everything, the blue blood that runs through her veins

Friday's daily wear. I really loved her outfit she wore on Friday. She was supposed to come to my Xmas party but things changed and I just had to share this adorable skirt!

so tired

this photo does my hard work no justice...I really need a new point and shoot or a better lens.

I have been baking non stop and I must say that last night was more of a success than the previous night. I made these really yummy chocolate orange fudge brownies. They were supposed to be cookies, but I don't know how they got the stars to cut out so perfectly. Maybe if I cooked them longer but I really think they are delectable. Yum yum. I had to give them all away or I could have easily consumed half the pan. I found the recipe on this great online magazine called Sweet Paul. Check it and the recipe out. I want to try it over and over until I am able to cut out stars or other shapes. They really are delish!

I was so happy to use my great Martha Stewart boxes and the finished result looked uber glamorous. I should open an online shop or something. Alas my baking is not done. I need to make more of my dad's chocolate chewy cookies to bring back home and some banana bread I want to bring to a Noche Buena party I am crazy enough to drive right up to on Friday night. I make a mean banana bread!

Side note Emma was back to her Im going to wake up at 330 am and just play play play. Sigh...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Better late than never.

stylish even in the kitchen

Yesterday as I was making cookies with Emma I realized that I was living my childhood dream. My mom is great and I love her but she is the anti-Martha. She was spoiled and didn't even know how to make an egg when she got married. As a child I longed to spend time with my mom, baking and singing Christmas carols. Being as how my mom is Mexican, she didn't know any Christmas carols and never was one to make a "fool" of herself . This is funny because now she gets on all fours and does things with her grandchildren that I have to question who that woman is. Well, now I am in the kitchen, listening to Christmas music and making cookies and crafts, the only difference is I am the mom and Emma is the little girl. It is always better to experience things at some point than to never experience them at all.

This weekend daily wear

dress, Gilt group

I love the back buttons.

I had to work on Sat and that pretty much sucked up most of my time. I was able to photograph Emma wearing the lovely dress her godmother, my friend, Naz gave her. I think she looks fabulous! She is so cute and loving. She is slowly turning into a momma's girl. There are moments where she only wants me to carry her around the house and I really question where this affection was when she only weighted 13 lbs. She loves to hug me and snuggle at night. She also likes it when I gently rub her eyebrows and nose as she falls asleep. She is such a diva.
She can say dinosaur and yesterday she came up to me and said "yo quiero mumbles". I knew she wanted something but since I couldn't understand what, she eventually moved onto other things. She loves to say "stop it", especially to the cats then they fight or claw the furniture and she is being more gentle with Gato. She had a really bad diaper rash and I had to get prescription medication to help ease the pain, so I know she has been uncomfortable for these past few weeks, but she is on the mend. She is a trooper and I realized today that most things pass and hopefully can only get better.

dress, Gap
tights, Gymboree

from the back. She loves giving attitude.

Emma Finney, sous chef

Hammer don't hurt them

my turn

Yesterday Emma and I made sugar cookies, well I made and she helped cut them out. She at first wanted nothing to do in the kitchen but once I had the dough all flattened and ready to go, her interest was piqued. I think she thought it was play dough. She eventually started grabbing whatever tools were around like a can opener or measuring spoons and uesd them as alternative cookie cutters. Needless to say I really do not enjoy making cookies. They are messy, tedious and so easy to burn. The small ones are like rocks and the bigger ones are cracker like. However spending time in the kitchen with my girl was wonderful. I loved every moment of that time.
It was NOT a productive day in the kitchen. We ran out of sugar and I thought for sure a 5lb bag would last until me Feb. I always forget how Ant likes to drink his sugar with a little coffee. So with no sugar, my red velvet cupcakes came out so so. I love their consistency but they really needed a full 2.5 cups of sugar and all I had left was less than 1.5. Poop! Plus since I was testing my tweaks to get them to the consistency I like, the batter was too liquidy and I couldn't make whoopie pies. Also without sugar I could not do my 3rd cookie, so I will be baking again tonight. I really wanted these gifts to be out the door today but alas, tomorrow. I just want a night to sit and watch Its a Wonderful Life and drink egg nog. On the bright side, I made my dads cookies and they taste just as his did! I still think his are better but I will attempt to make again on weds so I can bring some down to Tampa and share with my family.
So this week should fly by. I have so much work to do , I need to wrap and pack and clean....ooooohhhh time....

Friday, December 17, 2010

we wish you a Merry Christmas!

Since my singing is in demand, I realize that I really don't know the lyrics to a lot of songs and nursery rhymes just ain't cutting it for Miss E. When Emma wants more of my golden voice, the only songs I can think of at the moment are Christmas songs. It is funny how when I sing them I am transported back to my own childhood and feel that Christmas magic that you tend to lose in your late teens. One of the many joys of having a child is the ability to be transported back in time and relive wondrous moments. The only difference is with age you are granted the capacity to hold onto those magic moments. I can only imagine that I must have uttered the same "wows!" and held my mouth open a little longer just as Miss E did when she saw her first real, live horse or her first snowman or used glitter or consumed her first cupcake.

This weekend

I will not be attempting to make macaroons, but they are on my list. I just really like this image. going to be busy weekend. My kitchen is going to turn into a Keebler workshop! I'm going to attempt to make my dad's famous chocolate chewy cookies. He hand wrote the recipe for me a while back and swore me to secrecy. I apologize for not being able to share with anyone, yet. They are famous in my family and we would always get so excited when we saw him making them. My dad is the chef and baker of my family and everything he ever brought to the table was simply delectable. I guess that is were my baking desire began. I have my eye on my dad's recipe journals, they are all hand written recipes on pages that have now turned yellow, with some pages barely hanging onto the spiral binding. This weekend I will attempt at making those, along with red velvet whoopie pies and plain ol' sugar cookies and yes, cupcakes. I will see how it goes with having Emma as my assistant. She is the official taste tester at my house and I can just see her sucking the frosting straight form the tube. I am also going to attempt to make this Christmas tree. I shall post pics on Monday!
Have a good weekend. I have to work tomorrow so it will feel like I had no weekend. Still so much to do before our drive down to Florida! I can't wait to be back home!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

sa, sa, snowmen

Emma is obsessed with snowmen. She is totally loving her new book, The Snowman and read it back to back last night. I think it is a great book, especially for the non readers. It reads as if you were looking at film stills and each window is a story in itself. She was taking her time looking at each vignette and adding her own sound effects. I'm so happy she hasn't picked up on how it ends. I must warn you parents that the ending is a little too honest, but since there is no text you can totally create your own ending, making it less severe.

There is something quite unique about snowmen that I never really bothered to think about. They clearly have an ephemeral quality that is both melancholic and beautiful. Even though you watch them slowly fade away there is the hope of seeing them once more year after year. I know Emma doesn't get this about snowmen, but she adores them. She loves their hats and scarves and how they say "ho ho ho"- (I know they don't). I was happy to have found a great beanie stuffed snowman yesterday and the two great books I have mentioned before. I have my snowman cookie cutter ready to go this weekend and even found a great snowman coloring book. This leads me to this post of other fabulous, non traditional snowmen crafts that you all can make in minutes. I'm totally loving these cookies by Crazy Domestic. I'm not going to make them this year because I don't want to explain to Emma why they are "broke". I know Emma is going to have a wicked sense of humor but I'm willing to hold it off for another year.

image via crazy domestic, recipe included-super easy to make

image via Martha Stewart

yarn snowmen, so easy. image via spidatter

image via very heatherly. You can do this in the morning, before you go to work.

Merry almost Christmas

I cant wait to get my hands on that doll house, I mean for Emma to get her hands. Yeah, Emma.

I love that they came out with a whole new line of Olivia toys. These would make great cake toppers for those planning an Olivia party.

Emma has been going to be somewhat early. She used to be asleep by 8-830 but now it is more like 9-930. Sigh, anyway I wrapped her presents the other night and took a quick pic of her main gifts, courtesy of grandma. She is also getting several books, both coloring and reading and other treats. I think next year is the year I will have to keep the wrapped presents in my closet since Santa doesn't deliver until the 25th.

da ninj, aka ninjzilla, aka da punk, my love

When she was born she had a good head of hair and a little cowlick on the top that almost looked like a little tornado. My mom said that was a sign of a strong character and even the nurses in the NICU said she was a force to be reckon with. I guess they must have seen something I couldn't see until now.
She loves to yell at the cats now with such force that her "nos" have a subtle growl to them. She really does learn by example so Ant and I have both been treating the cats with a little more respect so she learns to treat animals with kindness. I mean don't get me wrong, we don't beat our cats but we do tend to be stern with them as they like to get on the table and swipe our food. Man, even the cats are living the high life at our place.
Another sweet thing she did yesterday is she saw me in my workout cloths and simply said, mama ejercisio, (exercise). I couldn't help but be amazed because that is a word I have never taken the time to teach her yet she said it with such ease. She cant say simple words like like but she can say ejercisio and quiero.
And finally, Emma loves to sing and is a huge Yo Gabba Gabba fan. I bought her their CD and we listen to it in the car every morning and this morning she was singing song after song, hitting all the right notes and intonations, it was too cute! I realized last night that pretty soon I will be having conversations with this little person and that is something that I is going to bring immense joy to me.

side note..I know I have been slacking on E's pics and daily wear but mornings are too crazy and she was sick and now it is freezing, but I promise soon!


this pic was of her first Christmas, two years ago. You can see just how happy she is. I feel so blessed.

...was one of those days where Emma was the most well behaved child. She did as she was told, had restraint and was just all around pleasant. I'm realizing this child is THE most independent child with THE strongest will I have ever seen. I have no idea where this strong personality and extrovertedness comes from. Both Ant and I were quiet children and liked to be coddled and to this day we are pretty chill, but Emma has never been one to be comforted or be still. Genetics is an amazing and funny thing. She can take a tumble and will just get right back up and "keeps ta truckin'" and always seems to want music on and people to clap and dance around her. She wants to do things on her terms. I guess all kids are like this, I mean growing up we didn't like to follow orders, but Emma takes it to another level. It is as if she is the captain running the ship.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

last minute craft ideas for the family, well the adult.

If you guys are fans of The Office you are familiar with how Oscar is constantly saying "actually". The latest inside joke between Claudia and me is me constantly saying "actually" every time I see something that I feel we could totally make. In a way I feel like Martha, "you know if you just...." So in reality my actually is really "you know you could". Seriously though, if you take the time to look at things you realize they are things that most people could make if time and unlimited funds for supplies were not an issue. Anyway, I saw these two images and was thrilled the blogger included the how-tos. I love the felt tree and feel it is easy peasy! I have felt and pins, just need the cone. Can we say Michaels?
Check these great blogs out for those of you who get some time off this Holiday and want to feel somewhat crafty.
image via Scissor variation
you know if you sprayed the leaves with spray adhesive and sprinkled glitter over them it would add a whole other dimension, I'm just saying.

image via little light studio

image via Cheeky Mag Pie

I included this image because I saw it last year on Apartment Therapy which lead to look at what other amazing project you can do with recycled books, but that is another post in itself.

I need to find out where this came from. I promise to come back with a link, but you know, if you just roll sheets of paper and hot glue under what looks like a coffee filter and place whatever image you like on top, you would have pretty much the above image and you could basically use it for whatever occasion you need. Just saying.

for all you animals lovers part deux.

Claudia showed me this scratching post and I NEED to get my hands on this, not only for my cats but for the endless photo ops with Emma. Oh what I could do with this and photoshop!!! I mean I don't call her ninjzilla for nuttin'. You can find this scratching post at Think Geek but they are sold out and I do hope they come back with more.

I love Wednesdays

Wednesdays are great because I work 1-8. I get to spend my whole mornings with Emma and we usually go to the bookstore to look at books. Emma just loves that place and always bolts straight back to her section. I was so relieved that they had stuffed snowmen there for only 8 dollars. Emma is totally obsessed with snowmen and I just couldn't see paying 17 dollars for the tiny one that came in gift set of Snowmen at Christmas. This one is twice as large and super cute. Anyway, I came across two really sweet books for Christmas and though I have made my pick for the week I couldn't resist talking about these. With one week to go they would make perfect Christmas presents.
The first is simply called The Snowman by Raymond Briggs and its a quiet book that tells of the friendship between a little boy and the snowman he makes. There are no words in this book, just uncomplicated illustrations that free up your imagination and that of your little one. The story can take on so many courses and voices.

The second one is Madeline's Christmas. It is an oldie but a goodie. To be honest I have never read a Madeline book until today, GASP! I just never got into her and though I do have one of her books written by Ludwig Bemelmans' son, I never have sat down to read the original. I do enjoy Bemelmans' illustrations and the mere fact that Madeline lives in Paris. Even though the title says Christmas, it really isn't a traditional Christmas book, there is no talk of Santa or baby Jesus, which is why I guess I gravitated towards it. I love how neutral it is, yet is still filled with wonder and magic. The basis of the story is everyone is ill at the boarding school except for Madeline who must assume the role of caregiver. She comes across as strange caller who has promised the girls a night of magic. What ensues is a jovial story of compassion and enchantment.

Since I am talking about Christmas books I just want to revisit two of my all time favorite Christmas books. I mentioned them last year and I just feel these are a must haves for your children's library.

the original cover, I really wish they had kept it

The first is Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. It tells of Mr. Willowby and his enormous tree that is simply too large to fit in his house. His butler cuts off the tip and instead of throwing it away he decides to pass it on to the maid. The maid takes it in only to realize it is too large for her tiny apartment and so she must also cut off a part. She then passes the remaining bit to the next person and so forth and so forth. I do not want to spoil this book by telling you about each person it goes through, but it is just a delightful book that teaches little ones about not wasting and the capacity of loving even the tiniest of trees. How something that one person might not even give a second glance to, can bring such joy and gratitude to the next person.

And finally, Mortimer's Christmas Manger, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. This book is perhaps the most "religious" book on this list as it actually talks about the true meaning of Christmas. Omitted are Santa and instead children are presented with the Nativity story. This book does this in a very sophisticated yet comprehensible manner that is never overly preachy or in your face. Mortimer is a mouse who lives in a cold hole of someone's home and becomes excited we he sees a mouse sized house. He believes the humans have left it for him. He quickly removes the unwanted guests and settles into his new digs and comfy straw bed. He becomes annoyed when he notices that each day the tiny people are placed back inside. The way Mortimer rolls baby Jesus out is quite humorous without being irreverent. Needles to say that what follows is a touching story that teaches children the true meaning of Christmas and I just love the moment where Mortimer realizes who theses "intruders" really are. The illustrations are just lovely and you cant help but fall in love with Mortimer. I myself have been struggling with how or when to start talking to Emma about baby Jesus, since so far she relates Christmas to Santa and snowmen. I grew up going to Christian schools and I do want Emma to have a sense of that, but I'm still trying to find the right balance. My main goal in life is for Emma to be a giving and caring person that treats all people equally and with respect. For me teaching your child compassion is the true meaning of Christmas.

Emma, Emma, Emma

This little person sometimes amazes me and not with the usual wonder of simply being my spawn, but in her quirky and honest feelings. I adore how she can't get enough of my singing and is the only person in the world that makes me feel like Ella Fitzgerald. I love that she can put things back without ever being shown where they go, I guess she is just really observant. She saw my hair band on the floor the other day and went into the bathroom and put it in the small container where I keep them. I know I have NEVER done this in front of her, in fact I only ask her to take care of her items. She must have inherited my natural sleuth gene.
I love that she never cries when it is time to say good bye to a TV show or leave a toy in the store. I'm touched that she herself has come to point where she no longer wants to drink from a bottle. I dodged that bullet. Last week out of nowhere she just refused milk. I thought it was because she was under the weather and had lost her appetite, but after 8 days of not wanting milk , I knew something was up. I tried everything from putting it a fun cup to giving her silly straws. Apparently the only way to now get her to drink milk is if you put it in a cup, with a normal straw and let her put two handful of jimmys in the milk. It is so bizarre and I have yet to ask the sitter how she came to that conclusion, but it works. Emma is back on milk. I guess she just needs to be in control. She cracks me up and I have noticed that me working on my attitude is transferring off on her and she has been very chill these past two days.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

things that make me happy

sometimes just random pictures of random dogs make me smile. My friend posted this picture of a dog she saw on the streets of Sydney and he has totally made my day. Look at that 'tude. He clearly went to the Emma finishing school of 'tude.

Book of the week

I was going to write about another book but being as XMas is right around the corner, I decided to talk about Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner. It is the follow up to her 2002 book, Snowmen at Night, which to be honest, I am not a fan of. Buehner also came out with a newer book this year called Snowmen All Year Round, but I have yet to check it out. This book is more charming and tender than the first and the illustrations are quite magical. How many of us don't imagine a secret world come to life while we sleep. The plot is basic, at night the snowmen all come to life and go to the town square to celebrate Christmas Eve. Emma is a HUGE fan. She is totally into snowmen this year and last night I had to read it to her three times and once at lunch today. Since she doesn't grow tired of this book I must recommend it! Still with plenty of time for the holidays I am sure all kids will enjoy this book! There is even a gift set that includes a stuffed snowman but it might be cheaper to buy the book alone and purchase a 5 dollar snowman elsewhere.