Friday, February 19, 2016

It's more than a window

We've made no secret that as a family we rely on full time childcare since both Jake and I hold full time careers outside of the home. For the last few years we have been so very fortunate to have our preschool right around the corner from our house. This makes drop off and pick up very convienient. Our oldest "graduated" from this program last summer as he started kindergarten in the Fall of 2015. Our youngest, who will be four in March, started at our beloved neighborhood preschool in Decemebr of last year and it has wonderful ever since.

I have so many emotions about child care and preschool and the love and guidance my boys get outside of the home. We are so confident and proud in how they are growing as young boys with our busy and chaotic routine that we call are life. 

Someday I will miss this routine. This week the oldest has no school as they observe a February break. (I will save my opinions on these random week long breaks for another post.) Lucky for us our preschool's program works with children through the age of 7. Many kinders in the local area attend the preschool after their half day kinder class is over. With a little planning, my oldest is allowed to go to preschool with his little brother this week. A lifesaver for this working mom. 

The preschool has a window. But it's not just a window.

You see that window with the little hand on the glass? That hand belongs to my oldest. This window allows the kids to wave to their parents each morning after drop off. Today, and all this week I got to wave to both boys. I realized today that someday I will miss getting this wave from one or both of them. But today I cherish this window, those blown air kisses, and how lucky we are to have such wonderful and skilled childcare providers to help us journey through our life. 

Do you have any special windows in your life? ~mrs. c

Sunday, November 29, 2015

You must be patient hot clam dip

My grandmother had a love for appetizers. She kept them simple most of the time. Cheese, salami and crackers usually. It was only for special occasions - holidays and the 49ers in post season - that she stepped up her game. She made calm dip. And not just any clam dip. This dip requires patience because it has to bake for 3 HOURS!

I made this for Thanksgiving this week because Jake loves this stuff (as do I) and this was the one dish he requested we have over and above the traditional Thanksgiving fare. So open a beer to drink while you make this but remember to save two tablespoons for the recipe. 

Hot Clam Dip

1 large round loaf sourdough bread
2 8oz packages cream cheese (softened)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons beer
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Tapatio hot sauce (your favorite hot sauce will work)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 6.5oz cans minced clams, drained

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F

Cut off top of round sourdough loaf and set aside. Hollow out loaf. Be careful not to create any holes in the loaf when you are hollowing it out. This is what you are baking the dip in. Save the bread removed from the hollowed out loaf; you will use it later. 

In a medium bowl, combine the next 7 ingredients and stir untill well blended. Fold in clams. Spoon mixture into loaf. Cover with the bread top. Wrap completely in foil.

Bake at 250 for 3 hours. 

Drink the remaining beer (optional of course.)

Serve hot clam dip with the torn pieces of bread you reserved. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading! ~mrs. c



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Five things about Stitch Fix #6

Once every other month I am giddy with excitement over an email. That email says that my Stitch Fix has shipped! YIPPE! This month it was also a reminder that I never told you about the last fix. So here you go. Fix #6.

First things first. If you have no idea what Stitch Fix is, than you may be living under a rock or you have never read my blog. Both are OK but I am so glad you are now going to be in the loop. You should start by learning what Stitch Fix is. It's a personal Stylist Service that me and you can afford. Who would have thought? If you go here and read about my first "Fix," you'll find a much more detailed explanation of the program. You can also go to thier website and check it out for yourself. Stitch Fix 

Let's get to the box and the five items that were inside. Two tops, a blazer, a skirt and a necklace. 

First up this cute and flowy summer top. It is sheer so it requires a camisole underneath but thats okay. I often wear a lycra type tank under my sheer fabric tops.  I have them in basic and neutral colors for just this occasion. Paired with white pants for summer or denim any time, this top is a keeper. 

Next a navy blue blazer. Let me first say this picture does not do any justice for this great blazer. Frankly none of these pictures are very good. But hopefully you will get the idea. This is the result of me and my iPhone taking these pictures by myself.  

It has been quite warm here in Northern California so I have yet to need to wear this blazer but I know I will. It's a synthetic fabric with a collar and lapels. With a skirt or pants, this is going to be a great go-to daytime office and meeting piece. 

Also in this box was a comfy stretchy navy and white stripped skirt. While there is no picture of it, the zipper is exposed on the back for a fun a detail. Great with sandals or heels and did I mention it is comfy? And it matches the blazer too! My only complaint with this skirt? The fabric has a wierd texture and after a while of sitting at my desk I feel the skirt digging into my skin. Wierd I know but a good reminder that I need to get up more often and move around. 

Next up, this coral top. This is the second top of this color I have recieved from Stitch Fix  but this one is just a cute and fun. The cut outs on the neckline are really attractive way to make a simple top look exciting. This one too is a bit sheer but that's okay, I have the right top to wear underneath it. 

There is also a long silver chain with some small flower-like details that you can see in the first picture. I wear mostly silver so this piece easily mixes with my other jewelry.

So what did I keep? EVERYTHING! Everything was husband approved, not that his signoff is required but i appreciate his opinion. And don't forget the 25% discount you get when you keep all five pieces in your Stitch Fix! That is of course if everything fits. I will say I have been very pleased with the fit of most of my Stitch Fix items. 

That is it. But stay tuned. I'm getting box #7 this week and already can't wait to get the mail that day. Hopefully the PG&E and California Water bill won't be in the same delivery. Talk about a buzz kill. Between the heat requiring the A/C and the raging penalties we are being assessed for using more than half of the water that we used at this time last year - that is 2014 amount from the same month cut in half is our max usage before we are being charged a higher rate - getting my utlitiy bills is the mail is a great way to ruin a good day quick. 

That was more editorial that you had hoped for but hey, it's my blog. Again, Stitch Fix #7 is on its way and a blog will follow very soon. If you use one of the links in this post to sign up for Stitch Fix, then I will get a $25 credit. Thank you if you sign up. But you are welcome for introducing you to this fun and convenient way to go shopping without going shopping. 

Thanks for reading. ~mrs. c

Saturday, June 6, 2015

We have walnuts!

You're probably thinking it's been a while since you've read a post on this blog. And you are right. We've been busy. And something had to give. Family is always first and that's where we have focused. Not that anything was wrong, we have just been busy being a family. And we've been making memories and that's what's important.

We have also been farming. Truthfully Jake has been farming but the fact is our young walnut orchard is coming along just like we had hoped. In fact this blog post is to show you how well they are coming along. 

We have walnuts! Real young walnuts growing on our 3rd leaf walnut trees. 

You might recall reading this when we planted these trees back in February of 2013. They were so little. But today they look beautiful. 

During the winter we pruned the orchard, identifing the strongest limbs and removing the awkward and misplaced ones. The pruning also encourages new growth. Jake did most of the pruning himself although I'm proud report I put in a few quality weekends myself with the pruning shears. 

For the summer months we will focus on irrigation and trying to discourage broken limbs. 

The drought is top of our minds as we monitor our water usage and try and alter our irrigation schedule with that of our neighbors to be able to keep our underground aquifer at consistent levels. 

The other important on farm work is trying keep our tools protected as thieves make their way around rural properties looking for items that they can steal and sell for quick money. Extra lighting, locks, and cameras are important farm tools these days. 

I hope to get a blog post up about some of those memories I told you we have been making as a family.  The upside to a dry winter in California is the chance to get out and be active. 

Here's a peak at some of our outdoor fun. 

Thanks for reading! ~mrs. c

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Have you sent your Christmas Card yet?

Thanksgiving is in the record books for 2014. Now begins the greatest competition among me and my friends. Who's Christmas Card will get here first! Didn't know you were competing? That's okay, I made this competition up but once Thanksgiving is over I am always eager to see who will send me their Christmas Card first. Will it be my CWA sister Lynn Figone? Maybe my friend Ellen Duerr? Michelle Hunter and Linnea Trujillo usually show up early enough to be on our card display for weeks. The challenge this year is that we moved - twice!  It's not a secret and we didn't move far but our Christmas card and annual letter apprising you of the new address is not going to win the competition. PLEASE e-mail me or comment below and I will share the info. I will be incredibly sad if I don't get your card this year.

Is this not the cutest little kid? Love that smile. I have no idea whose kid he is but he is cute. Wonder if my kids would look cute on this card? That is the big question.

Christmas cards have been revolutionized.  From the days of our parents handwriting a box of cards picked up at the stationary store to today where you can pick your favorite picture or pictures, upload them to one of many online stationary retailers and customize a card, the message and even have them addressed and mailed too. We are spoiled! With so many options, how is one to pick?

The folks over at Minted asked me to peruse their holiday card designs*. Why did they ask me? Maybe they know I have an affinity for paper - thick paper, soft paper, heavy paper, textured paper, linen, cotton, cardstock, glassy, matte - the list goes on and on. Truth be told, if I could do all my Christmas Shopping at a stationary store I would. I can make a trip to buy a ream of paper last 30 minutes. So many smooth writing pens and new office organizing gadgets to look over.  Ahhhh.

This post however is about Christmas Cards. Have you used Minted before for your holiday cards or custom invitations? I have not but maybe this will be the year? After all they asked for my two cents on their 690 holiday cards. Yes you read that correctly 690. The good news is they have a feature that allows you to mark the ones you might like, a "Favorite," and come back to it later. I'm also curious about their customer service, product quality and production time. These are usually the items that I take into consideration when choosing an online stationery retailer. What's important to you?

Enough about the details. Let's get to the cards. Here are a few of my favorites. (The links to these particulars cards are in the picture captions in case you are wondering.)

I have two boys, This card explains our life perfectly!
Wreck the Halls
This one gives you the opportunity to share multiple pictures. It also says "Merry Christmas" which is really important to me. After all it is Christmas. 
Merry Collage
For those that love this card, like me, but maybe want a different color banner, you are in luck! This one has LOTS of options for the front and the back. Truthfully all the cards have lots of options. Change the shape of the card, change the message, change the text, add something to the back, change the quality of paper, really the options are limitless.
Casual Christmas
 How cute is this one? All online stationary retailers, listen up. Here is the next big idea for your online service. Figure out a way for me to upload my picture to your website so it populates each of your designs - all 690 for Minted! Brilliant right? Sure would make it easier for me to pick a favorite if I could see my kids in the picture. Just a suggestion. You're welcome. 
Very Merry Flourish
 You will never miss with just simple. All picture and a just the perfect message. 
Classical Christmas
This one would be ideal for us given we have moved and need to update our family and friends. If I don't get the annual letter written, this would be a great replacement.  
Fun Facts
 This one got me with the clean text. Must be why it's called scripted elegance. So elegant. 
Scripted Elegance

How do you choose? I actually have 14 different styles in my "Favorites" bar at the moment. That number will probably increase before I start weeding them down. Which card will it be? Will I add a scalloped edge? I usually send a flat card but maybe I will send a folded card this year. Yep, you have that option too over at Minted.

The folks over at Minted told me that tomorrow, Cyber Monday, they will have their best prices and deals yet. They didn't tell me what they would be but they did say they would be good. So upload the family photo, grab a glass of wine and get to designing. 

There are lots of different retailers to choose from with lots of different designs, price points and crazy deals happening right now. 

I would love to hear from you so please tell me below in the comments what design you choose and from what retailer. 

Thanks for reading and if you are on our Christmas card mailing list, stay tuned. It will be in the mailbox soon. 

Merry Christmas! ~mrs. c

*Minted asked me to review their Holiday Card selections and offer my thoughts to my blog readers. In return they have offered me a credit towards product for a future purchase. The designs are theirs but the opinions and thoughts are all mine. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Being Thankful

It's hard to believe 2014 is almost over. Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. A time to pause and embrace what it is that one has that they are thankful for.

So what is it that I am thankful for?

Family that loves you unconditionally.

Laughter of my little boys.

Health of my family.

Agriculture and a table to gather around that always provides nourishment.

The ability to be the best person I can be. 

Simply put, I'm blessed and for that I am thankful. 

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween was a blur!

If you have young children I'm sure that most of your treasured photos are blurry. Not because you are a bad photographer but because your kids have a gene the does not allow them to sit still. Of course I have no scientific evidence to support that it is a gene but what else could it be? 

I have to tell you I almost forgot to take pictures of the boys in their costumes this year. Not because I don't think they are the most adorable superhero's ever but because they have been driving me crazy for a month over these costumes. In fact they have dressed up every night leading up to Halloween because they loved their costumes so much. We bought the costumes early. We knew they would be popular and the boys knew they wanted to be Superheros. (Of course I do have a Spider-Man costume in the closet too. Maybe we can save that for next year.) The problem with the early purchase was they wanted to wear them. So we let them. Each night they put them on and played. Each night I made them take them off before dinner and I hung them back up in my closet so as to not allow them to be torn or destroyed before Halloween.  See those cute Captain America Shields? That is the 2nd set. They broke the first two. But the costumes survived. I told Jake I could not wait till Halloween was over this year just so I would not have to worry about the costumes being destroyed. 

So it's over now. I took the pictures. Lots of blurry pictures. Everyone was happy. They have Captain America moves that would make Captain America himself jealous. They went door to door in our neighbor hood and collected candy. They are only 4 and 2 so they are still getting the hang of the "Trick or Treat" process but they figured it out.

We got home that night. I helped them take of their costumes and I slung them over the foot boards on their beds. I figured they could play dress up now all they wanted and I would not care one bit if a costume got dirty or ripped or simply lost in the mess of their room.

And that was it. The costumes are in the same place they were Friday night when I took them off. A month of "I must wear my costume moooooommy!" and all they want now is that damn Target toy catalog that came in the mail. All I can say is thank goodness we have two catalogs.

Bring on the Holidays!
Thanks for reading. ~mrs. c


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