Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hubby Five-O

Hi readers,

Today is my DH's birthday, and what a great day it's been!  While he was at work, the Bachsters decorated the house!  Then, we painted a spot in the office where the wallpaper was torn - a spot that he always sees when he's on the computer.  And then we got him a cake and balloons and beer and Whoppers (his fave).  And we also gave him a cornhole set, so now he doesn't have to make one, which he kept threatening to do!

Anyway, here are a couple of pics from the festivities:


Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Nook - Sookie Stackhouse novels

Hi readers,

Reading Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels is like munching on a box of your favorite candy: they're sweet, not particularly nutritious and you won't stop until you've eating every piece.  Last year, I read all the novels in the series in rapid succession, and then I waited a year for the latest, Dead in the Family.

In this latest installment, Sookie is still healing, both physically and mentally, from her many wounds she received in the Fae War.  Amelia is moving out, Jason is dating someone new, Eric is still her man.  This novel dives into vampire politics a bit, explores her relationships with Eric, Hunter and Claude further (I just love Claude's character, so I was happy to see more of him), all while introducing us to some new characters like Eric's maker Ocella, Alexei & Jannalynne.

This is an enjoyable installment to the series; yet, it wasn't my favorite.  I read it quickly (you can read these in a day easily, even while stopping to make meals for the kids or to fill up the baby pool).  I liked the parts with Eric and Hunter and Claude.  Yet I really didn't care whose body was buried on Sookie's property, I didn't really care which fairy was roaming around uninvited and I just wanted to get through the big Were meeting to get to better parts of the novel.  In other words, the intrigue that was set wasn't very, well, intriguing.  Perhaps this is just that a year has passed, so my interest in the novels is waning?  I think a better explanation is that the novel is, in my opinion, not as strong with the plot as some of the previous novels have been.  Also on the negative side, I don't think any of the new characters are great ones.  Jannalynne & Annabelle, Basim, Ocella, Ham & Patricia - none of them really "stick" with the reader; in fact, I had to look up some of their names in the book as I write this because I've already forgotten them!  I love the idea of a vampire taken from the pages of history, like Alexei, but I think the author did a much, much better job doing this with the character of Bubba ("thank you, thank you very much").

That being said, I think Charlaine Harris does a great job with the main characters and seems to know them well.  And she seems to know where she is leading the reader.  The pacing of the novel seems about the same as the others.  I also liked the storyline with Bill - I really like Bill's character and felt he deserved more than to pine for Sookie in every novel.  And the bit with the family Bible was touching.

So, was this the best novel I've ever read?  No.  Would I recommend it?  Yes, if you are into the series.  And I would recommend the series - as a whole, these novels are great fun.  I particularly liked the first one, and the fourth one (the one where Eric loses his memory and becomes a kinder, gentler Eric).  I think after maybe the 5th one or so, they seem to be losing a little steam - but it's like watching a race that has many laps - not every lap is going to be the most exciting, but leaving before the end of the race is just no fun.  And besides, you could always get a box of your favorite candy to help pass the time!

So, anyone else read this novel, or the others in the series?  What are your thoughts?


Thursday, June 24, 2010

A nice surprise

Hi readers,

Lookee what I got in the mail today - yarn from Red Heart!

They sent me 4 balls of that gorgeous "rose dust" color, which is their Eco-Ways recycled blend; 3 balls of the blue Eco-Ways bamboo wool and 3 balls of tangerine Eco-Ways eco-cotton blend.  Aren't those colors beautiful!  They also sent me a reusable bag with the Save the Planet contest logo on it:

And they sent me a very nice letter, which states: "We were so pleased that you were a runner-up in our 'Save the Planet' contest.  In our eyes you are a winner!"  Isn't that nice!  What an unexpected, wonderful surprise!  Now I just need to figure out what to knit with all my great new yarn goodies!

While I didn't win the contest, just to be chosen as a finalist was really an accomplishment: there were over 300 entries!  And if I hadn't entered, I would always be wondering how that great idea I had for a knitted globe would have done in the contest.  At least I gave it a shot!

And on that thought, I leave you with a parting quote:

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
-Wayne Gretzky

Have a nice evening!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back to Inniswood

"The seed is hope; the flower is joy."
-Author Unknown

Hi readers,

Today, the Bachsters and I went back to Inniswood Metro Park/Garden for a special program on seeds.  It was a nice program & Inniswood did a great job organizing crafts and activities for the kids, as well as a brief educational program on seeds.  However, it was very hot out today and the kids were ready to pack it in shortly after we got there.  In fact, they didn't even want to check out our normal stomping-grounds of the pond or Granny's House, or any of the beautiful gardens we usually visit.  No, they wanted the car and their water bottles!

But, we did manage to have fun planting some seeds & doing some other activities and I was able to get a couple of shots.  Here is the "make your own sunflower" craft:

And here is Little Guy's very gluey creation:

Those beautiful red and yellow flowers by Granny's House were beckoning me, since they were right there by the craft tables, so I thought I'd try to improve upon my shot from the other day.  However, I had bright sunlight to deal with, as well as 3 very tired, hot & rather cranky kids.  So I only got one shot, on auto exposure:

I think yet another trip to Inniswood is in our near future.  It's always a pleasurable visit, even on hot summer days.  But for now, it's nice to be back home, just chilling in the air conditioning!

Have a nice Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bowling, Birthday, Blooms & Baking

Hi readers,

My daughter had her 5th birthday over the weekend and we partied hearty!  On Saturday, we had a party for her & some of her school friends at the local bowling alley.  She was hesitant to bowl at first, but quickly got into it & had a great time.  Here is a pic of our Bach Girls bowling:

They gave her a silly birthday-girl hat at the bowling party, which she loved.  Here's my big 5 year old showing off the latest design trend:

On Sunday, I made her a homemade birthday cake.  Little Guy decided to try it ahead of time:

Later that day, we went to Inniswood Metro Park & Gardens in Westerville.  If you ever get the chance to go there, do!  It's beautiful!!!  Our birthday girl chose to go there on her birthday so she could explore the secret garden.  Here is a pic of some lovely blooms by Granny's House at Inniswood:

One of her b'day presents was an easy bake oven, so we had fun making cookies on Monday.  Those little ovens crack me up - they bake one cookie at a time & it takes like 20 minutes between the baking and cooling....per cookie!  But the Bachsters didn't care, they were in charge of the kitchen!  Here are a couple of pics from our baking day:

Birthdays never seem to last for just one day around here, and I'm glad that my little one enjoyed her birthday-days so much!  And she still has another gift coming: my surprise knitted toy, which sadly, I did not finish in time (but not for lack of trying)!

For now, it's time for this completely-pooped-out Mom to take a break!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Nook - Raw Food, Real World

Hi readers,

Are you familiar with the raw food diet?  I heard about it years ago and remember thinking, what do they eat, a plate of carrots?  Well, there are carrots, but also a whole myriad of choices and methods of food preparation in addition.  Basically, the raw foods diet (not really a diet, but a lifestyle) is eating only fruit, vegetables and raw nuts - and nothing is cooked.  According to raw foodies, cooking robs your food of valuable enzymes and oxygen.

I thought I'd give the raw foods diet a chance a few months ago.  I didn't want to lose weight, but I wanted to incorporate more fruit & veggies into my daily routine and wanted to start eating healthier in general.  I read a bunch of books & checked out lots of cookbooks on raw foods, and this is one of the best:

Raw Food, Real World by Matthew Kenney & Sarma Melngailis is not only a raw food cookbook, but also a really informative book on all aspects of the raw foods lifestyle.  The authors are very willing to share their personal experiences of their foray into this lifestyle.  Their candor is a nice touch (ex: Matthew's business went bust around the time they went raw & the funny discussion on "cleansers").  They're not trying to sell raw foods to the reader, or make it out to be something it's not.  I think the authors hit the right tone in their writing and it reads like friends chatting with you about this really exciting thing they discovered.

Now, you might be thinking, this is a cookbook - how much reading is there?  The book is interspersed with recipes, lots of photos and lots of information about specific foods (like sea salt, for example) and the authors' experiences and observations.  So, it's much more than a cookbook, really.  But, the cooking part is great, too.  Er, rather the un-cooking part.

There are loads of great recipes in here, and they challenge every preconceived notion I ever had about raw foods.  There is nary a plate of carrots to be seen.  There are, however, great recipes like spicy Thai vegetable wraps.  I made these & they were great.  My husband liked them too (he tried all my raw food recipes).  I couldn't make the tamarind sauce that accompanies the dish because I couldn't find tamarind, but the dish was really tasty even without the sauce.  The pineapple-cucumber gazpacho was very light and refreshing.  I loved the pairing of pineapple & cucumber.  Now that summer's here, I'll be making it again for certain.  The freezer fudge was awesome & I have to admit, I horded it ("but that's my special raw food recipe honey......").  The honey nut butter & berry jam sandwich is so easy to make & easy to tailor to your needs (I don't have a dehydrator, so I skipped that part).  And there are a couple of recipes that I have not tried, but really want to: soft corn tortillas and the dark chocolate ganache tart.  Don't they just sound yummy - now imagine making these dishes with all healthy, fresh ingredients that are actually good for you!

I saved the best for last, however.  One of my all-time favorite recipes comes from this book: the cinnamon banana shake.  It. Is. To. Die. For.  I never realized how bananas & cinnamon compliment each other so well.  I make mine with the 30-second nut milk recipe, so it's fast and easy.  And I never throw away bananas anymore.....they have a much better future in store for them!

One nice thing about the book is that almost every recipe has a nice big color photo with it, so you can see how it's supposed to look.  The bad part of this is, you will want to make everything!  I should also mention that there are some recipes that call for special equipment (a dehydrator or a high speed blender, mostly).  It is definitely possible to make a lot of the recipes in the book without this equipment, but some things you can't (like any recipe with coconut - don't even try it unless you have the high speed blender).   

So, in celebration of the first day of summer, let's all turn off our ovens and un-cook dinner tonight!

Happy Summer!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Paper Mache

Hi readers,

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I want to do regular art projects with the Bachsters this summer.  Well, we had our first one a couple of days ago....paper mache!

I made our paste homemade - it's a little scary to think that flour and water mixed together basically makes glue!  The kids kept commenting on how nice it smelled (I added ground cloves).  They also helped cut up the strips of paper we used.  Here are a couple of pics from our paper mache making, phase 1:

We let our bowls dry all day & then painted them the following afternoon.  Here are some pics of the painting phase:

As you can see, my daughter got all crafty and started painting with a dandelion.  Getting crafty is what it's all about!

I'll keep you posted on more arts & crafts to come!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Hi readers,

I've been working on a big knitting project (or actually, a series of smaller projects under one big "umbrella" of a project) for about a year now & I keep getting sidetracked.  First, it was a Harry Potter scarf for Halloween (totally worth it - I'll have to share some pics), the knitted globe and now another project jumping line in the queue.  I'm knitting a little birthday surprise for my daughter, who is getting ready to turn 5.  I'll share more when the project is all done, but for now, I can say that I've taken on designing & knitting a toy for her - and I have one week to do it!  I'm pretty delusional, I know.

The yarn I'm using is Plymouth Yarn Dreambaby DK, found in abundance at my LYS.  I've used this yarn on several other projects in the past (a baby blanket, a knitted vest and a scarf, to name a few) & I've been really happy with it.  It's soft, there are lots of colors and it's inexpensive.  Usually I don't go for acrylics or nylon or anything, but this one is worth checking out.  Here's a pic of the yarn I'm using for the project:

Yep, it's just sitting there, on the hammock, slacking away.  Get busy, get only have a week!!!

Hope you are having a nice Tuesday!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Nook - The Creative Family

Hi readers,

Both the Bach Girls just recently finished school & are out for the summer.  And I've been hearing these questions a lot:  "what can I do?" or "what can I eat?" - they are pretty bored already!  So, I've been thinking that I'll plan some organized activities with them this summer (usually, we just veg out).  I'd like to do a "field trip" once a week, an art project once a week and daily reading & journal writing - just like school!  So Amanda Blake Soule's book, The Creative Family, is incredibly timely.

I didn't realize all the great projects there are in this book until I started reviewing it one more time before it went back to the library.  The Bachsters are very artsy (as just about every kid is), so I'm sure they'll love doing the stuffed art project - taking their art and stuffing it into a toy.  As I'm a knit-lover (obviously) I want to teach them the finger knitting.  I know they would all love the placemat project, too - so that's another one for the list.  I've never done felting, so that might be a fun one for all of us.  I also love the idea of making pillows or other embroidery projects with the  kids' artwork - what a wonderful way to use it as an everyday item and see their art all the time versus saving it in a box.  That project will be a fun collaboration!

There are many things that we, as parents, can do to help our childrens' creativity - like the art-on-the-go bags.  It never occurred to me to take art supplies out & about with us, but I'm sure they would love to create just as inspiration hits them - like on a nature walk.  What a neat idea!  Or, setting up a nature table based on the season.  Our little ones always bring in stuff they find out in the world - why not have a designated space for them to enjoy it all?  So many of the ideas in the book seem so obvious & easy, I kept thinking I should have thought of that!  But I didn't, so thank goodness for Amanda Blake Soule!

A couple of more great ideas from the book, and then I promise I'll stop gushing already:  doorway theatre, fairy houses, henna art, love letters from parents on birthdays, joy jars and treasure boxes.  There are so many creative ideas packed into this book!  The Soule family must be an incredibly fun family to grow up in - maybe with a little help from SouleMama (here is her crazy-popular blog that I visit frequently) we can get some creative-mojo here at the Bach Haus!

Do you have any fun, creative projects planned for this summer?

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm really kicking myself...

Hi readers,

Today, I took the kids to the library and afterward, we went for a walk at Blacklick Woods Metro Park.  I decided not to bring my camera because I didn't want to leave it in the car while we were at the library and I didn't want to mess with bringing it in.  I figured we were just going for a short walk in the woods, chances are there wouldn't be too much to see.

I was very wrong about that.  About halfway through our walk, a scuffle just off the path caught my attention.  At first, I thought it was a couple of birds fighting & chasing after each other.  But as we watched, it appeared to be a bobcat catching a bird!  I know how crazy that sounds!  Bobcats are rare in Ohio, and this is a metro park in a suburb of Columbus.  Here is an interesting article about the bobcat population in the state.

Anyway, I got a pretty good look at it and it sure looked like a bobcat to me.  What a great opportunity to get a picture - even a bad picture would've been golden - of a rare big cat native to the state.  Oh, yeah, that's right....I was camera-less!  I am really kicking myself and have vowed to never go anywhere without my Nikon again!

My 4 year old also got a pretty good look at it, but she doesn't really know what a bobcat is vs. a domestic house cat.  We went to the nature center after our hike and I asked the naturalist about it.  He thought maybe we saw a domestic cat that lives in the park - he said there is one that looks like a wild cat and has lost part of its tail.  That is certainly a possibility that I'm not ruling out.  I just wish I had gotten a picture of it so that I would know for certain!

Have a nice Friday!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ravelry party at Yarnmarket

Hi readers!

As some of you interested in the world of knitting might know, the annual TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association) conference is this weekend here in Columbus.  And while I don't have the opportunity to attend TNNA (I've got to figure out some way to crash the party), I did attend a fun event tonight, that was held because everyone's in town for the big event.  Yarnmarket, my LYS (local yarn store) held a party for Ravelry-ers at their warehouse/showroom.  It was packed!  Of course, I didn't know anyone, but I did get to meet Jessica, who is the person (along with her husband, Casey) who started Ravelry.  She is really friendly & we chatted about Nikons & Ravelry & Jeni's Ice Cream for a bit.

I've been in the warehouse before at Yarnmarket, but never with my camera.  Here are some pics I took of the event.  As always, the folks at Yarnmarket are so wonderful.  Thanks for having all of us knitters!

Now, I'm off for some late-night knitting!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Hi readers,

Today was my daughter's last day of kindergarten.  I can't believe she's just finished her first year at the "big kid" school!  To celebrate, I made the Bachsters pancakes this morning:

These were mine cooking - they don't like blueberries in theirs.  Come to think of it, I probably made them all pancakes on the first day of school, too.  So now we have come full circle!  Full, syrup-laden circle!

The grocery store has had a really great sale on raspberries this week.  Today, we went back a second time this week for 5 containers of raspberries!  They are usually so expensive that I don't use them in recipes, but since we had so many, I made whoopie pies as a special treat.  Here is where I got the recipe from - I just love Martha Stewart!  They were so yummy!

So now, we're all on sugar-overload! 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Nook - Charlotte Zolotow & Stefano Vitale

Hi readers,

Charlotte Zolotow has written over 70 books for young audiences.  I'm not familiar with a lot of her work, but here are 2 books of hers, both illustrated by Stefano Vitale, that are just fantastic:

Sleepy Book by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Stefano Vitale is a quiet, softspoken book.  Each page tells how different animals sleep ("the snowy crane sleeps standing on one long leg like a flower on its stem").  We read about animals such as horses, moths, caterpillars.  The last page is about how boys and girls sleep in their beds.  The text is quiet, soft and well...sleepy.

What really grabbed me about this book are the wonderful illustrations by Stefano Vitale.  He paints on wood, and the natural grain of the wood really adds a lot of character to the paintings.  His use of color is extraordinary.  The woodsy browns and greens of the forest (and I love the sly fox peeking around), the gorgeous purples on the snowy crane page and, what has to be my favorite page, the kittens in their basket with the light of the fireplace blanketing them.  Each illustration perfectly matches the tone of the text and are so beautiful that I want to rip them all out, frame them & hang them up.  But I can't stand the thought of this book sustaining any injury whatsoever, so I've even hidden it from the kids - and it's technically for them!

Zolotow and Vitale have a couple more collaborations, but I have only read Sleepy Book and the excellent When the Wind Stops.  It was actually first published in 1962 (Sleepy Book was first published in 1958), so someone out there in the publishing world had a very good idea to reprint these stories, teamed up with the illustrations from Vitale.

When the Wind Stops is actually very similar to Sleepy Book: they are both quiet stories about bedtime, for bedtime.  Here, a little boy has had a fun day playing, and now he is getting ready for bed.  He and his mother have a discussion about how the end of our day is the beginning of the day somewhere else.  When the wind stops blowing here, it is blowing somewhere else.  When it stops raining, the water goes back into the clouds to make rain somewhere else.  Nothing really ends: "it begins in another place or in a different way."

What a wonderful message for children, and a very comforting one too.

Again, Vitale's illustrations are superb.  The page that shows the the sharks and fish is amazing - everything is slightly askew, just it might be if you saw it underwater with the waves chopping around.  I also love the autumn/winter tree; again, here is that warm, golden light that he is so adept at portraying.  In this book, it seems that he chooses wood with less pronounced grain for some of the pictures, while in others the grain is very noticeable.  He is a master of the technique, for certain.

These are wonderful books.  I enjoy them & the Bachsters enjoy them.  If you read them, please let me know if you enjoyed them, too.  I think you will!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Uno, D'oh!, Trace

Hi readers,

A few days ago, I taught the girls how to play Uno.  And every day since then, they've been begging me to play.  It's been so fun having a new activity to play together!

A little tip I recently learned: don't do anything with ground cayenne pepper outside on a windy day.  Ever. 

I admit, this picture is a set-up.  But the Bachsters love tracing and drawing, so I didn't have to use my powers of persuasive coercion too much.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Little Deer

Hi readers,

Today, we had an unexpected visitor....a little baby deer!  My husband was in our backyard, looking around the house to see if there were any wasp nests, as I told him I've been seeing lots of wasps by our back door lately.  That's when he spotted a little baby deer, just hanging out in our backyard, by the house, waiting for his/her mama!  The funny thing is, last night there was a doe in the neighborhood, and she was actually in our backyard for a while.  I guess she liked what she saw because she brought her little one back later!  In the 9 years we've lived in this house, I have never seen a deer in our yard before, so this is a very rare occurrence!

The Bachsters were so fascinated by the deer & they were so good about being quiet whenever we snuck in the backyard to take a quick peek.  We searched for lightning bugs in the front yard tonight, so as not to disturb our little visitor.

Here are a couple of pictures I took - in the second one, you can see how close we are to the deer.  Please don't mind all my weeds!

Have a nice evening!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Strawberry Day

Hi readers,

The Bachsters and I went strawberry picking today.  We all had so much fun!  It was nice and cool and overcast most of the day, so the weather was just perfect.  In addition to the strawberries, we also saw a goat, what appeared to be a couple of donkeys, a horse, a very cool big jumping spider and a damselfly that came into our car for a short while (that really thrilled them).  So here are a few pics of the event:

 And what is one to do with all those strawberries?  Make strawberry shortcake, of course!

Have a nice evening!