Jul 29, 2012

Top 5 Entertaining Tips

We celebrated my mom's birthday this weekend and I've done a lot of planning, directing and preparing for the events, which included boating on Saturday and a pot luck dinner on Sunday. Here are the 5 things I've learned in the process:

5. Plan ahead - make reservations, decide how the food is going to work (I think pot luck is the way to go), set up appetizers, make lists (thanks Kumar!)
4. Allow sufficient time to make everything clean and pretty before the event starts.
3. Have really good friends involved in case you need essential items, i.e. ice, paper towels.
2. Include good drinks -  we had the Lingo's killer 1-1-1 margaritas, beer, wine, and a pitcher of ice cold drinking water.
1. Decorate! If there is anything I've learned from all the children's books I've been reading, a party isn't a party without decorations. We had balloons hanging from trees and flowers. A little whimsy goes a long way!

Happy Birthday MOM!!!

Chelsea made my favorite chocolate cake in the world it was AMAZING!

Chocolate cake with homemade Magic Strawberry and Custard Vanilla ice creams, made by my brother Steve. The Strawberry is a no cook ice cream and it tastes just like the real thing, it really is magical.

It's becoming a tradition that Lucy helps my mom blow out her birthday candles. Lucy decided she was responsible for the pink ones. They both did a very good job, wishes should be coming true this year.

I took a bite before deciding to take a picture, I have priorities. This is my favorite dessert,  EVER.

Porter noshing on a fresh Lemon Cucumber from the vine. 

Uncle Kumar helping Porter live the dream at Fred Meyer.

Jul 27, 2012

Top 5 Reasons Family Is Great

5. It keeps growing, and the more the merrier!
4. There are always many views and perspectives to be explored.
3. They are people you can trust implicitly.
2. Many hands are very helpful when raising a child.
1. Family gives you opportunities to experience love in all of it's forms.

My family has come to visit us in Boise and I couldn't be more grateful for their company. Porter's Tutu, Grandad and uncles Steve & Kumar are some of my most cherished people on Earth. Congratulations to Auntie Nanna (Anna) and Micah on your engagement!! Porter is lucky to have a kind and caring new uncle, and we're lucky to have another brother. I love my ever growing family!

Thanks to Uncle Kumar for capturing Porter's expressions at their best.

Jul 26, 2012

Top 5 Favorite Websites

5. www.Treehugger.com 
As it's name implies, Treehugger's focus is geared towards the environment and green living. Since it's purchase by Discovery I feel it's content is less alternative, but still very interesting.

It's like Pandora, but better. You get to choose the artists in your play list so you can have many genres playing at one time. Awesome!

3. www.Wikipedia.com
Online encyclopedia? Yes, if you trust what your peers are willing to put on there. I love all the possibilities: TV show synopsis', entire books condensed into Cliff's notes, random and assorted information on just about everything. And it's free, hurrah!

2. www.Hulu.com
We don't have cable or satellite, so the free version of Hulu is right up this TV junkies ally.

1. www.YouTube.com
It's better than television and guaranteed to entertain.

Swimming at Tutu and Grandad's hotel pool.

Jul 25, 2012

Top 5 Favorite Movie Sound Tracks

5. Dirty Dancing: RIP Patrick Swayze

4. Sound Of Music: Flash mob!!

3. Aladdin: whoa.

2. Stealing Beauty: love everything about this movie, especially the music.

1. Sleepless In Seattle: so many amazing oldies.

Jul 24, 2012

Top 5 Favorite Sayings

Obviously these are common sayings and I am crediting those who've said them to me.

5. "Patience is a virtue." ~My dad
4. "I want Dada!!!" ~Porter's first complete sentence in a fit of anger and hatred for me and nap time
3. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." ~ Joan my swim coach from The Boys and Girls Club
2. "Be the change you wish to see." ~Ghandi
1."If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. Don't give up to easily persistence pays off in the     end."~Challenger School
Porter was playing with the spoons and then got up and went onto the next activity.
This is what he left behind. Awesome, no?

Turns out we have a park within half a mile of our house, hurray!

He's like a real boy.
And in need of a haircut. His mullet is showing.

Jul 23, 2012

Top 5 House Requests

In a few years we'll be wanting a bigger home and that's got me thinking about what I want that new home to have.

5. Up to date plumbing, electrical and appliances
4. Space for kids and adults to play outside and in
3. A great room
2. Garage
1. Bright airy rooms with natural sunlight

Enjoying grilled cheese and a smoothie after our morning jog on the greenbelt.

Later that same day, climbing tables after playing in the fountain at Ann Morrison Park.

I had to stop him from walking straight up to that goose and trying to kiss it.

Jul 19, 2012

Top 5 Ways To Make Zero Waste

These pictures were taken a year ago, July 2011.

He' still a messy eater.

He could barely sit up for a few seconds at at time, now he's a bushwacker!!
I'm kinda cheating on today's top 5. I've stolen it from The Zero Waste Home blog, one of my favorites. I first read about the Johnson family in Sunset Magazine in this article. Read the article and then decide if they're crazy or not. I'm leaning to the side that says they're really extreme, but just on the right side of crazy. My home could never be zero waste, or even as minimal as the Johnson's, but it's pretty inspirational if you're into the less is more thing. It's a phrase my father often used and I can't help but hear it floating through my head as I swim through toys, clothes, books, rugs, artwork, food, kitchen appliances, outdoor equipment, gardening what-not, cars, stuff. We live in a small home without a lot of storage so that means most of our possessions are out in the open, to look at and collecting dust. I'm trying desperately to part with much of this stuff, although it's hard and I certainly like my things as much as the next girl. Le sigh. Work in progress. Back to the top 5, these are the 5 ways the Johnson's reduce waste in their home, which they stick to rigorously and it works. The steps are always to be done in just this order:

1. Refuse - say no to receipts, drink carriers, disposable grocery bags, disposable tasting spoons, etc.
2. Reduce - do with less. Interesting fact I learned: eating organic food makes a person feels satiated with 30% less food than commercially grown food. Another reason to eat organic - to reduce food waste in step 5.
3. Reuse - canvas totes, library books, glass jars for food and shop in bulk, shop consignment
4. Recycle - if you must use something disposable make sure it can be recycled
5. Rot - if you've followed all the other steps then the only stuff left should be organic matter that can be composted. MMMM...black gold.

If you're into reducing your stuff and all the stuff on our planet, you might find these videos interesting:

The Story Of Stuff, part 1

The Story Of Change, part 2


Big Kitty's hiding spot has most definitely been compromised.

Jul 18, 2012

Top 5 Favorite Zoo Exhibits

Went to Zoo Boise with Porter today and these are my favorite animal attractions:

5. Giant Finnish Bunnies
4. Wallaby Walkabout
3. Sloth Bear, he's really cute
2. Butterflies
1. Tigers

Porter's favorites:
Any of the big cats, gibbons, and feeding the farm animals.

P's first merry go round. He rode Dumbo. You can't tell from this picture, but he loved it.
I, however, was trying not to toss my cookies.

I'd never seen this statue before, but leave it to Porter to find a honu around every turn. I tell you, honus are everywhere!

The first butterfly to land on Porter. He didn't quite know what to think, but he listened when he was told not to touch. He stared at it for a little bit, and when he said "all done" the attendant quickly removed the butterfly from his belly.

Jul 17, 2012

Top 5 Ways To Beat The Summer Heat

Since last week when we had a crazy smoke induced heat wave (and insanity), the temps in Boise have hung in the low 90's during the day. It hasn't been so bad if we keep the evaporative cooler running and the correct doors and windows open/shut. Going outside, however, is a different story. 90+ degrees in the sun is not a whole lot of fun. So, Porter and I have been all over town trying to stay cool and these are my Top 5 favorites:

5. Park it in the living room in front of the evaporative cooler, read books and be still like a lizard.
4. Go to the library, where the AC is always pleasantly cranked and there is often entertainment of some kind.
3. Turn on the hose and get a bucket with which to dump water all over ourselves, preferably in the shady backyard (thank goodness for that sweet new lawn we installed).
2.  Play in the gigantic fountain at Ann Morrison park, serious fun.
1. Head out to the lake for sand slinging, water fountain and inner tube floating relief.

On Sunday Porter and I hung out at the fountain in Ann Morrison Park. Porter's always a little hesitant at first. Then he sees the big boys run the perimeter, slicing through the water, and total chaos ensues. It's really fun.

Just hangin' with the big boys.

When he was littler, the flood irrigation water was too cold. Not anymore.
My boy eats his colors.

Jul 16, 2012

Top 5 Favorite Things

A haunting version of My Favorite Things sung by Young Sun Nah, who sounds amazingly like Ella Fitzgerald.

Porter and I listen to a lot of music these days. Usually the Toddler station on Pandora or Jango. Thanks to my excellent upbringing and stint as a teacher of young children I know quite a few of the children's repertoire. Some of my most favorite songs stem from my childhood when we would go camping as a family in Big Sur and listen to lots of music on an old school boom box. One of our favorites was the soundtrack to the Broadway version of The Sound of Music. My brother and I knew pretty much every word to each song. My love for these songs was reinforced as a teacher at Challenger School since, lucky for us, they were part of the curriculum. I have sang Do Re Mi, My Favorite Things and Edelweiss hundreds of times, and they never get old or annoying. Unlike some of the tackier pop songs that have been known to filter through my head. My Favorite Things came on the music station so I took the opportunity, again, to sing along while my child watched me with curiosity. It was a very tender moment. Here are my Top 5 Favorite Things:

5. Sleeping on clean sun dried sheets
4. Buttery flaky chocolaty croissants
3. Foggy summer mornings
2. Porter facial expressions
1. Singing and Dancing with a group of other people

Jul 14, 2012

Top 5 Favorite Veggies

I just got back from the Boise Farmer's Market with this bounty of food:

3 dozen pastured eggs from Green Goat Dairy, summer squash, cucumber, onions, peaches, sunset beets, lettuce, cauliflower, garlic and a flat of berries (red, yellow and purple raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries) 

A berry bouquet

I've also been listening to the Real Food Summit, which is going on for a few more days and you should totally check it out. What is Real Food you say? Isn't all food Real Food? Not anymore. People are finally getting hip to what real food is and are co-opting the term. It's also been known as the slow food movement and to some extent the organic food movement. Organic food, however, has been around long enough to be corrupted a bit, mostly in terms of animal treatment. Here's a really excellent explanation of Real Food. The gist of it is, if the food (fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, etc.) have been raised and grown in the way nature intended and then are cooked in a way that your great great great grandmother would have prepared them, it's probably real food. The key word to look for in meats and dairy foods is pastured. This means that cows and goats (herbivores)  get to eat green grass in the full sun, chickens and birds (omnivores) are free roaming to scratch the earth and to eat bugs and plants, and piggies (omnivores) are given room to run and root in the earth.

For a long time it's the way I've wanted to eat, but couldn't quite identify how to express it. This way of eating has always made sense to me, despite my love for Hostess cupcakes and all things chocolate. The nice part is that it's entirely possible to make all the foods I love out of real foods. The drawback is that it's not always convenient. That simply means planning ahead, which I'm getting good at now that Porter is around.

I've started my Real Food journey by changing the fats I use. I'm stocking up on organic pastured and cultured butter, cooking with coconut oil and only using olive oil in it's raw form. Canola and other veggie oils have been proven to be bad for your heart and health and those are out the window. I've also started going to the Farmer's Market and getting to know the farmers.

When I take the time to eat good meats, fats, dairy, veggies and fruits I feel amazing. It's only when I don't eat that way that Real Food becomes a hassle. I've gotten of my diet of healthy eating and I'm ready to get back, so here are my top 5 favorite veggies (there were some ties):

5. corn, organic and non GMO
4. beets, wrapped in foil and cooked on high heat for about an hour (thanks America's Test Kitchen)
3. asparagus & crook neck squash, from a local garden and grilled they are so sweet and tasty
2. onions & bell peppers, any way you want to prepare them, I'll eat it
1. lettuce, give me a crunchy bitter/sweet salad any day

Jul 12, 2012

Top 5 Places I'd Rather Be

Fiery smoke filled sunset.
It doesn't happen very often (usually in the dog days of summer and depths of winter) that I get grumpy, cranky and mad. This week's weather has gotten me there and the only way to sum it up is bah humbug and to hell with everything. Wait, I feel like I'm already there. At 7:30pm it was 105*F and smokey. It's been smokey for the last 3 days. Bleh! So, to try and get myself in a happier and more content place, I'm going to think of all the places I'd rather be than where I am right now. Not very zen, but I'm no Buddhist, just bitter.

5. Somewhere air conditioned, cause we certainly don't have it.
4. Nevada City at the Alton Ranch swinging in a hammock watching the wind in the trees.
3. Capitola on a foggy summer morning wearing jeans and a sweatshirt with a warm latte.
2. Maui, floating in the ocean on a pink plastic floaty without a care in the world.
1. In a better frame of mind.

Okay so maybe it's a little pretty, whatever.