Monday, June 29, 2009

The Cousins

Saturday we drove out to Rhode Island for a memorial service for Mike's Uncle Dave, who passed in March. It was a mass, and I wasn't sure how well Magoo would do in a mass (this was his first time in a church!) but he did great. By the end of the hour, he was definitely ready to get out of there. But there was enough standing up, sitting down, and standing up again in the mass to keep him somewhat occupied - and I brought some mazes. One of the best parts of the mass for me (other than listening to MaryBeth read about her father - which was very sweet) was watching Magoo enact an organ performance.

Then people stood and filed out, and Squirmy couldn't get to his cousins fast enough. (Although I'm told Magoo went up to the priest, shook his hand, and introduced himself first.)

After running around the church basement for awhile, Magoo and his cousins made it our back to the (locked) play yard.

The kids had a varity of ways in.

The first shot is of all seven cousins. I COULD NOT BELIEVE they all came over and posed for me. It was unreal! Then B. (in the white dress) just got a new camera so she ran out to get it and the kids all posed again!!! I shoulda bought a lottery ticket!

Here's N. It was hot that day and he poured some water over his head. Doesn't it look like an Ambercrombie & Fitch ad?

And B. looking oh-so-pretty as she hid during a game of hide-n-seek.

We then returned to Aunt Elaine's house where Magoo lived out a dream - showing his collection of Pokemon cards to two admiring boys.

I didn't know Mike's uncle very well. I think for the first couple years Mike and I were dating, Dave wasn't 100% sure who I was. He was usually with the guys watching sports on TV and I was with the women talking about girly things, like kids or whatnot. But he was always a pretty happy guy and boy did he love to play with his grandkids.

I know Dave will by missed. But I think the day went as he would have wanted it, with the family enjoying each other's company and lots of memories being shared and made.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Last Day of Kindergarten

(Above) Pictured is the first day of Kindergarten way back in August. Clearly, Magoo was a little nervous. I can remember how first days were for me - so scary because you didn't know the routine or what to expect.

Today is the LAST day of Kindergarten. (Below) And Magoo had a fabulous year!

He has a ton of friends. He loves his teachers. He loves going to school! He's made tremendous strides this year and we took home a wonderful report card. Everyone is very proud of him.

(Below) Here he is showing one of his classmates his father's new Spiderman watch. That's right, it's Mike's birthday and Magoo picked him out a Spiderman watch. Mike asked him, "Do you want to wear it?" And OH MAN was Magoo excited about that.

So Magoo has a lot to celebrate today. Graduating from Kindergarten (What a big boy, mist), Dad's birthday, and tonight we party with the Metcalfe's who are leaving our neighborhood next week (double mist.)

Big day.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Recent Sewing Projects

June is a busy month. There are birthdays, anniversaries, and the end of school. So I had a lot of work to do. My mother's birthday was June 19th. I went to the art show in town, hoping to find something cool. But nothing impressed me and I thought she'd just as well have one of the embroidered quilt pieces with Magoo's drawing as a centerpiece, as anything else. So I transferred his cat drawing onto clothes and viola'! Cat quilt.

Then I had to make teacher's gifts. I've been making these little pouches for awhile now. You don't need a lot of fabric and can finish one, beginning to end, in less than an hour. Here's the tutorial. Of course, I had to make seven - so that took a little time.

Then I filled them with assorted chocolates and Tic-tacs. Yummy and functional!

Finally, my good buddy Staci came to town for business. Staci's birthday is June 30th, so I got her a present (I actually bought something) but I wanted to send along a couple goodies for her little ones. Her daughter got a zippered pouch (OK, so I made eight of them) with some girly goodies like bracelets and fingernail stickers in it. But her son is only 6 months old. So I made him Humpty Dumpty.

I embroidered the face, but the rest is machine sewed. When I make things for babies, I try to eliminate buttons or anything that might be pulled off and become a choking hazard. I suppose the baby could pull off Humpty's arm - but that thing is so long there's no way he's eating it!

Magoo used to love Dr. Phil when he was a baby. I think it had something to do with the big round head - so I hope little F. likes Humpty.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Big One - Oh

This weekend, Michael and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary. It was supposed to rain - and it did. But we got lucky and were able to have the first part of the soiree' outdoors. I sent the kiddos off on a treasure hunt. (Above.)

We ended up having the party on our front driveway b/c the backyard was just too squishy after nearly 2 weeks of rain. But nobody seemed to mind and it was good to be on pavement. A couple people sunk into the bog by the BBQ, though.

One of my favorite foods is sushi - so I ordered a platter from Whole Foods. (Below) O. is considering it. Does he go for it? He does not.

But I do!

About midway through the food, the rain started coming down. Everyone grabbed something and we squeezed inside for ice cream.

The top row is homemade: Mint Oreo (from the Ben & Jerry's cookbook), coconut, and Chocolate-Coffee. Then I bought some tangerine sorbet and Cookies 'n' Cream. Something for everyone. Except poor O. He has a nut allergy and, whereas, nothing had NUTS in them, they were made in nut facilities and that was a no-no! I tried!

Then it was time to bust out the karaoke machine. (Below) Magoo does a rendition of "All-Star". His has a lot to do with toilets.

I used my well-tuned passive-aggressive powers to get everyone in a group shot. (I still can't believe it.) Look at the kids! Even the kids are smiling! (Because my handsome husband doesn't like to have his pic up on the blog, I cast Josh Holloway.)

It was a really fun party! Thanks to everyone who came.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Great Day

Last Sunday, Celebrate West Hartford was here. That's when the big fair/art show comes to town. Usually it's freakin' hot. But it was overcast (for the most part) and pleasant and we had a great time.

There are always some lame-o rides and maybe one or two cool ones. But this year they had something new - The Bungee Jumper. Magoo had to wait in line for 20 minutes, but we knew he'd love this - and he certainly did.

After the fair - Magoo and I went over to our buddies' house where Superman and Batman had an epic face-off.

I don't know why they were fighting each other, instead of a common foe, but at least the "muscles" gave the rough housing boys some padding.

N, who was Batman, seemed to think that Batman (in real comic book life) could win the fight. I had to explain the sad reality that Batman is a rich human with karate skills and gadgets, but Superman is an alien and can actually fly. Superman would kick Batman's butt, hands down. Then N wanted to be Superman.

But not before kicking Superman in the nuts!

Just kidding. He pulled it in. Besides, Superman has a Super Cup. :)

It was a super fun day and considering we've had SO MUCH FRIGGIN' RAIN here the last week - it makes me feel good to look at pictures when the kids could play outside. Sigh.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lemon Vegan "Cheese"cake

I love cheesecake.

I'm not sure when I had my first piece, but I do remember when I lived in New York and the diner around the corner served the best stuff. I also remember, in that same diner, the prostitutes could sit in the first booth. Or the last. Well, they got one booth and it was at either extreme of the diner.

I never spoke to them, I was too busy eating my cheeeeeesecake.

And then I developed my lactose intolerance. Bye-bye cheesecake. Okay, I'd cheat every now and again, but I could never have a huge honkin' slice. Just a sliver and then I'd have to load up on pills. Not nearly as much fun.

But I recently learned that Vegan Gourmet put out a vegan cream cheese with no maltodextrin (which is something Magoo and Mike can't have) and I found a recipe I could tweak for vegan lemon cheesecake. My foodie buddy, Sara, was coming over for dinner last night, so I thought I'd try it out on her.


1 - 14oz. package firm tofu
1 - 8 oz. package Vegan Gourmet cream cheese
2/3 cup raw honey
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 TBSP corn starch
1 - pie crust

I started by making a GF graham cracker crust. I baked it according to the cookie baking directions. This dough will puff up, so go ahead and roll it as thin as you can handle.

Preheat oven to 350.

Then I placed the tofu and cream cheese in the food processor and blended for 1 minute. I added the honey and blended another 3 minutes or until really smooth.

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and cornstarch. (You can add 1/2 tsp. almond extract if you like. We can't use that stuff.)

Pour lemon mix into the food procerssor and blend it altogether. Pour it into your pie crust and bake for 45 minutes.

Allow to cool for 2 hours at room tempertaure and then put it in the fridge to firm up overnight. (This was the hardest part for me. It smelled sooooo good and then I had to wait!!! Torture!)

I picked some strawberriwes from the garden and plopped them on top.

It had a very nice, firm texture. And a light, creamy taste. The bottom crust was a little thick, but it wasn't a major issue. On the whole, I'd say this was a pretty darn good cheesecake. Now, if you CAN eat REAL cheesecake, that's much richer and denser. This is a tasty alternative, and for someone like me, who can't really enjoy that much concentrated dairy - it's a dream come true.

I had two slices. Sara had two slices. And ...

Magoo had two slices too!

Then Sara and I discussed some possiblity changes:
- substitute 5 eggs for cornstarch
- add some vanilla beans
- add some lemon zest.

It's not the easiest thing in the world to make - but if you have some time and want a non-dairy, non-sugar summer dessert, it's a goodie.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boston Trip

Since we had to be in the Boston area for the Newtonville Book reading (see previous post) we decided to go a day early and have a little fun. Here's Magoo on the Cambridge side of the river, with Boston in the background.

Man, I miss that town.

We went to the Museum of Science, which is close to where Mike's sister lives (and where we were crashing.)

Here's our heat sensing family portrait. I guess the lenses in Mike's glasses are pretty cold, eh? This would make a great album cover if we wanted to stat a band!

Magoo and I found a fun mirror and LOOK how smart we are. We have HUGE skulls!

I guess my side of the mirror needed a wipe of Windex or two.

Despite the dinosaurs, animals, electricity, magnets, water currents, and color experiments - the best thing at the whole museum was the escalators!

NOTHING beats riding on escalators. Nothing.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Reading at Newtonville Books

Saturday I had the absolute pleasure of reading, along with Ammi-Joan Paquette and Margaret Muirhead, at the WONDERFUL Newtonville Books. If I had to create a bookstore where I would want to spend my time, it would be pretty close to this one. I might add a cat or two that walk around. I love bookstore cats. But apart from that - this was a fabulous bookstore and they were very, very good to me.

For one thing, Mary, who co-ordinated the event, was clearly "with it." Not everyone is "with it" - I think we all know that. But Mary was A.)easy to find B.) friendly C.) knew what was going on. She also talked the event up because (as you can see) we had a great turnout! Go Mary!!!

Here you can see that I had this lovely picture window behind me. It brought in great light, but I also thought it was fun (when I was in the audience) to see the people walk by and peek in. If I had been walking by, I would have seen all the fun going on in there and jumped right into the store to join in.

Magoo, as always, grabbed a little spotlight for himself. When Mary introduced the three authors and said my name, Magoo boomed, "That's my Mom!" And got a big laugh.

When I read the story, Magoo kept chiming in here and there. "Wink's going to fight with the panda!" Finally I said, "This is my son who wants to be noticed."

That boy can't resist the chance to make people laugh. Fortunately, he's pretty funny.

And here we are. Magoo in his Wink shirt and I in my Zutsu shirt.

After the reading Margaret, Joan, and I signed books. Wink sold out in about fifteen minutes. (Yahoo!)

Thanks again to the people at Newtonville Books and thanks to my hubby for taking pictures.
It was a really fun event!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another Day at Tootin' Hills

Day 2 at Tootin' Hills School: I did two presentations today.  One for the 1st graders and one for the 3rd graders.  Once again, what a lovely school and lovely students.

I started off by asking the kids if they knew what a ninja was.  The first graders said that ninjas were sneaky and tried to be hidden.  Yup.

The first third grader I called on said, "They come form the Edo period in Japan."

Great googily moogily!  I wasn't expecting that.

The next third grader said, "They cleaned out the food and weapon supplies before they attacked a village."


Clearly these third graders did far more research on ninjas than I had!  I loved it!  But they quickly said that ninjas were supposed to be stealthy and that Wink was not - so I was back on track.

Between groups I went back and signed some autographs on the backs of yesterday's art projects.  It was fun to see them completed.  I usually have to go before all the kids are done and the students really made big scenes out of it.

Here's a collage of ninja heads!

And here are some finished ninja scenes.

I love the blue background Wink.  He's wearing a top hat!

The third graders made me feel like a rock star.  Many kids wanted me to sign their hands!

But my FAVORITE thing is this picture - Julie the Ninga.

Unfortunately, the pencil comments in the background didn't really show up.  The audience is saying:
- This is amazing!
- Awesome!
- You rock, Julie!
- Cool!  
- Fantastic!
- How dose (sic) she do that?
and my favorite...
- This jerky is delishious! (sic)

That was done by Peyton.  Peyton, you're a riot!  I love it!

Thanks again to everyone at Tootin' Hills School!  I was treated so well and it was an absolute pleasure to be able to spend time with you!

(Special thanks to Heather for taking awesome pics and organizing this whole thing and to Librarian Lois for getting me yummy treats.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rootin' Tootin' Hills School

Today I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the Tootin' Hills School in Simsbury, CT.  They were so good to me, I think I'm spoiled.

For starters, the librarian made a welcome banner and she even had a plate of treats for me.

(Above) This is a corner of the library.  How cool is that?  There's a tree house and 3 murals.  Gorgeous! 

I did my power point presentation to all the seconder graders in the library, then I moved to the classrooms to help them make their own collage ninjas.

There were so many fantastic ninjas - I couldn't possibly showcase them all.  So here are a few that I did get a snap shot of.

And one of the greatest things ever: one classroom made a Wink Bamboo Forest Banner!!!!

Wink would surely say, "Yahoo for Tootin' Hills School" and so do I.  Thanks so much to all the great second graders and their teachers for making me feel so welcome!

Tomorrow I present Wink to the first and third graders!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Quilt Art

It's a dreary morning - so I finally got my butt down to the basement to work on a teacher's gift - an embroidered wall hanging.

I got the idea from Soulemama who, I think, did this with some of her children's drawings and I thought it was clever - as so many of her ideas are.

I took a picture Magoo drew and transferred it on some cloth.  Then I carried my little embroidery basket around with me and whenever I had to hang outside while Magoo played, I stitched the design.  Then I pulled some colors from my Martha-stash of fabrics and did a real quick quilted border.  

Inspired by the Improvisational Quilt Project, I didn't pull the ruler out once.  I like things a little off, yanno?

I'm super pleased with it and now I'm thinking I want one of my own.  (Magoo did a lovely drawing of a violin yesterday.)  But this one is for Ms. Claire and I hope she likes it.


Monday, June 8, 2009

The Sleep-Over (Kinda)

Our very good friends are moving at the end of the month, so Magoo wanted to have his buddy, N, over for a sleep-over.

After dinner, the boys had a water gun fight.

Battle cry of the crazy boys!

Boys + water guns = FUN!  They had a great time.  Then we went in to calm down in front of the boob tube. (I moved a small TV up to Magoo's room so they could be cozy.)

Then N, who is in first grade, showed off his reading skills by reading Wink! The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed.  (plug)

Around 9pm, it was time for lights out.  (My goal was to have them sleep at a decent hour b/c boys who are overly tired have a harder time falling asleep in a new place.)

However my plan didn't really work.  There was a bit of discussion between N and myself as to how much light was needed.  After we agreed to a night light and a small lamp, we talked about the closet, what to do if he got scared, and what would happen to his big wheel if he needed to go home that night.  After all the details had been discussed, N decided he'd rather just sleep at home.

Magoo was upset at first, but I think he was just as happy to sleep in his bed as opposed to his sleeping bag (which is weird b/c he often asks to sleep in his bag on the floor.)

So I packed up N's things AND his big wheel and delivered him home to a very happy little brother.

So, instead of a sleep over, we'll call it a pajama play date - but they boys had a very, very good time.  And that's the most important part.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wink Beats Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I was kinda having a blah day.

I stayed at school after drop-off to hear Magoo read the school's code over the loudspeaker, "Whiting Lane Students are respectful and responsible, make good choices, and always look out for one another," but there was a mix-up and he didn't get to do it.  :(

I just found out that one of his buddies was supposed to be in gymnastics camp with him, but the parents decided to go another way.  But that's why we signed up for that camp!!!!  :(

I've been cleaning all day.  :(

And I have a headache.  :(

But then my husband sent me a review for Wink from the blog, Bookends, and I am suddenly one happy camper.   :)

The fact that the kids went for the book BEFORE they went for the cookies absolutely makes my ding-dong day!

(And I should probably mention that Wink 2 is tentatively scheduled for release Spring 2011.  Hope I didn't jinx it.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Million Dollar Baby

On the way back from karate, Magoo and I saw a sign for a KIDS TAG SALE.  Oh, you know I gotta get a piece of that!

We ended up leaving with a set of boxing gloves and a bag.

He's the champ!