Fuzzy Wuzzy

Most kids are afraid of normal kid things: monsters, the dark, loud noises, strangers, strange animals, bugs.

Then you have the kids who are afraid of weird things.

Like Sophia.

She’s terrified….of fuzz.

Basically, lint. My kid it afraid of lint. She’s terrified of anything that looks remotely like it: dust bunnies, clumps of hair, tiny shreds of paper, anything that is light enough to blow by on the floor.

At first we thought she thought the fuzz that blew around were little bugs skittering by. We tried to explain the concept of fuzz. Sometimes her stuffed animals lose their “fur” and it is nothing to be afraid of. Or, sometimes mama just didn’t sweep the floor and dust collects into ‘bunnies’. But she is still terrified.

She will run out of her room screaming and/or crying: “There’s fuzz, mama, fuzz!”

We pick the offending piece of whatever up, show it to her and try to get her to touch it; to show her it is nothing to be afraid of. Usually she shrinks away and says “nooooo I’m scared!” But there have been times she will touch it and acknowledge that maybe it isn’t so bad, but still demands it to be thrown away.

She almost has a sixth sense when it comes to finding the smallest piece of fuzz on her rug, under her bed or in a remote corner of the house…yet, she still can’t clean her room without me hounding her 100 times.

Toddlers, man…Toddlers.

Zucchini Bread: Wherein I learn to ask my friends before making things.

I bought some zucchini. It was on sale. I thought “Oh, I can sautee it up, it will be great.”

Then I was told how some people in my house were not huge fans of sauteed zucchini. Since I’ve never fried it, or didn’t really know of a good raw application, I got the great idea to make BREAD.

I did a quick search. I found Paula Deen’s recipe. It had good reviews, I had all the ingredients, so I decided to go for it.

Had I been smart, I would have gone through, done a quick cursory search for “Zucchini Bread” through Google Reader. OR I would have asked my friends via Facebook or Twitter what recipe they use. Had I done either of those things, I would have found Suzanne’s post on her Healthy(er) Zucchini Bread. But I didn’t, so I went about making Paula’s recipe, then tweeted about it.

“Are you using my recipe?” Suzanne asked, because, well, we bloggers like to know the recipes that we post are going to good use. I get giddy when people say they’ve tried a recipe I’ve posted.

“Wait…YOU had a recipe?” Shit, I thought. There goes my post on Zucchini bread. The LAST thing I want to do is a copycat post. Plus, most of the people who read me, probably read her (and if you don’t, why the hell not? She’s the.awesome), and we owe it to our readers to be original. Or something. But then I giggled, because we are NOT special snowflakes of the internet. I had already taken pictures of the process, the bread was in the oven…why the hell not?

Then I got a GREAT idea. I’ll try this bread, and THEN try Suzanne’s recipe next week, and report back as to which we liked best here.

Fun, right?

If only the girls liked zucchini bread. Since the only one in our house who had it before was Bill, I had no idea if the rest of us would like it.

Lucky for you, the girls loved Ms. Paula’s recipe. It was tasty, but…it stuck to the pan really badly and my mini muffins did not keep their shape.

Here is Paula’s recipe. For once I made no changes to a recipe Um. I didn’t add nuts. Oh well. I guess I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t make some change to a recipe. Also? I made mini muffins and a loaf pan of bread (instead of 2 loaf pans).

Paula Deen’s Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.

Excuse the weird plug thing, but this is the stuff you’ll need for the bread. I shredded all three zucchinis for about 2 cups of “meat”. After you mix the wet and dry ingredients it will look like the bottom picture.

My bread pan loaf turned out okay, very moist, but it kept its shape. My little mini muffins did not fair so well. Still, it was a tasty recipe. Especially with a little bit of cream cheese. Olivia declared that she wanted “to eat zucchini bread every day”. It’s a good thing, because there is a lot of it.

Suzanne’s recipe next week!

P90X Update: Week 5

This was the start of Phase 2. The only change was my Wednesdays. Instead of Shoulders/Arms it was Chest, Shoulders & Triceps.

Day 29 (Monday): I was sick. So sick. I did nothing. Since I practically ate nothing, I don’t feel very guilty about it.

Day 30 (Tuesday): Okay, maybe I felt slightly guilty, as I really did everything I could to maximize my Cardio workout today.

Day 31 (Wednesday): Today’s workout was totally different than my previous Wednesday workout. I must admit, I am not a fan of this one, as there are SO MANY PUSH-UPS. I hate push-ups. Seriously hate them. Give me all the bicep curls, tricep extensions, upright rows you want, but push-ups suck. And these were brutal. I did most of them on my knees, not even able to complete all the reps. It felt like my first week again, as I had to sit and watch a lot, because I had never seen some of these exercises. But I did attempt every one. I did not do Ab Ripper X, as I was exhausted at the end.

Day 32 (Thursday): It’s unfortunate that this yoga workout is so long, because I dread it. It is actually not all that bad after the first 45-50 minutes. After that, I enjoy the stretching, even the Yoga Belly X. I’m still not able to do Crane, nor can I keep form in the side arm balance, or the half moon (among others).

Day 33 (Friday): I was 100% on today. I did every single exercise, except for the Single Leg Wall extension. I just couldn’t accomplish that one. I was at top intensity and by the end, covered in sweat and unable to think straight, nor able to do the Ab Ripper X. I just couldn’t fathom another 15 minutes after my hour was done.

Day 34 (Saturday): I didn’t want to work out today, but I did, and the hour went by so quickly. I always seem to forget how much fun Kenpo X is, and how quickly the time passes. I punched and kicked and felt my coordination was definitely improving. Covered in sweat by the end, I felt great. Sore, but great.

Day 35 (Sunday): My butt hurts. All the lunging on Friday must have done something, because I’m still feeling it. I’m also resting, because I feel I deserve it. Even if I did miss Monday’s workout.

Here are a few things I feel will help make my workout better after Week 5:

  • I’m going to attempt to stop eating/snacking later at night. Even if I am snacking on healthier things and well within my calorie range, it’s probably not smart to eat right before bed.
  • I really need to get better about tracking my calories. Being sick this past week derailed me, and I know I was pretty good, but having solid numbers is good for me, so I have some accountability and a way to track and show someone what I’m doing if the need to see a nutritionist arises.
  • I am going to attempt either doing Ab Ripper X BEFORE the start of my 1 hour workout, or make a better attempt to do it after. I just don’t have the energy to get it done after the hour is over, but I know that I need to work on my abdominal muscles, since, hello? Two babies. Also, I carry my weight in my stomach, and while I know you can’t “spot train” (or so I’ve been told) maybe strengthening those muscles will help to shed some of the fat there. I just know I need to make a better effort at getting that workout in, so either find an untapped energy source or do the ab workout first. I’m still deciding.

Notes for Week 5:

  • I lost half a pound. Woohoo! Although, at this rate, I will not see my goal by my 30th, but I am trying to remain upbeat.
  • I shouldn’t get hung up on numbers. But it is very hard, when you feel you are putting all of this work and effort into something and you are seeing no return on your investment. Frustrating.
  • I took photos on Day 30. I had Bill take them this time, so they weren’t in the mirror, and you can’t really see a difference. Hopefully on Day 60 (next picture set) I will see a difference.
  • Measurements will be done next week. Maybe we will see a bigger difference there.
  • The start of Phase 2 made me feel like it was Week 1 again, as I was fighting the urge to puke. Was it because of my illness on Monday? Or because my muscles had been given a “break” the week before during transition? I don’t know. I just know that I felt queasier this week than I had since around Week 2. Hopefully that means my muscles are confused and are working to get me in better shape. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Thank you again for your continued support. I really do appreciate all of the kind words and comments you all leave. It means so much!

Project 365: The Outtakes (Days 29-35)

Day 29: We were lazy, so we didn’t do much until the afternoon, when we went out around town. I ultimately went with Cavalia because it was different and I wanted to make sure I was doing more than just pictures of the girls. I did, however take some of Olivia playing Super Mario Bros. which was super cute.

Day 30: It rained. After naps and the raining had stopped, I got the bright idea to take the girls out in their rain gear to go puddle-hunting. They had a blast and I took so many pictures, I couldn’t decide. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Day 31: I was not exactly in a picture taking mood, but I went into the girls’ room and took a few pictures of them playing. I really liked the drum one the best.

Day 32: Bill’s case was dismissed (he had jury duty) so he was home early and we took the girls to the park. We had so much fun, and I had a hard time deciding.

Day 33: We went to the park for our weekly play date. It was pretty chilly, but sunny and beautiful. I took a few pictures of the kids being silly, but I really had a hard time choosing between three. Here are the other two.

Day 34: The girls wanted to play with bubbles all afternoon. Which was fine by me, as I LOVE photographing bubbles. Sounds weird, but they are a fun subject. I think I made Sophia hold the bubble blower up in the air 20 different times (not that she minded) trying to get a cool bubble shot. Here are some bubble outtakes:

Day 35: I chose another bubble picture because today was Olivia’s “day” (the 4th of every month). She was 4 years, 4 months old and I wanted a picture of her, but didn’t get any good ones of her doing anything other than bubble blowing. I did take  flower bud pictures that I liked as well. The pictures were virtually untouched in photoshop, I just did a slight sharpening (as I always do) and brightened them up slightly.

We want to see your outtakes too! Go over to Amy’s Outtakes post & link up! Or you can leave your outtake link in the comments and I’ll add them below!

A note about photography

I’m about to share with you my biggest pet peeve when it comes to photography. If you’ve ever been guilty of said pet peeve, do not feel badly or think I secretly hate you (I don’t! I promise!). I think a lot of it boils down to ignorance. People just don’t know any better.

When people see my photos, they sometimes ask me “What kind of camera do you have?” So I respond (a Canon Rebel XTi), and then they say the phrase I hate the most: “That’s a great camera, it takes GREAT pictures!”

No. I take great pictures.

I’m not an expert photographer. I like to think of myself as a skilled amateur who is trying to up her status. I take a lot of pictures. A LOT. Some of them are crap. But, if I look back from when I first got my camera, I am LEAPS and BOUNDS better because I take a lot of pictures and I am actively trying to become a better photographer. I am learning by taking classes, by reading, but mostly by DOING. I am nowhere near where I want to be, I’m a work in progress, and I doubt I ever really feel I am “where I want to be” because the whole beauty of the art is trying to better yourself, always wanting to up your “game”.

Don’t get me wrong. A good camera is gold. In fact, I can’t wait until I can upgrade because the camera I want has better light sensors, better features, etc. etc. that will help me improve my photography skills. But. You can no more stick a $10,000 camera in someone’s hands and expect them to be Annie Leibovitz, Ansel Adams, or Dorthea Lange, than you could stick a $10,000 guitar in someone’s hands and expect them to be Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. On the same note, Eric or Jimi could probably play amazingly on a $25 beginner’s guitar and Annie, Ansel or Dorthea could take amazing pictures with a point&shoot. I’ve seen it done, some of my favorite pictures have been with a point&shoot. There is talent, skill, and practice involved with photography, just like any other art. Some would argue that you either have it or you don’t, but that’s up for debate.

The OTHER thing I hear a lot of, which also annoys me?: “Well, if I had photoshop, I could have amazing pictures too!”

Um. No. Photoshop is a tool. An amazing tool that I love. I use it. BUT I have found that the better I get, the less I rely on it. It is a lot like make-up. You can only enhance, you can’t create something from nothing. If you have a crappy picture, you can only make it less so.

One of my photography instructors liked to say “You are smarter than the camera. The camera can be tricked, so you have to know your craft so you can get what you want out of your camera. Make it work for you.” Not the other way around.

This post would be useless without pictures, so let me show you an example.

This is SOOC (converted to JPG)

I didn’t do much in photoshop, except a slight unsharp mask; something I do on all my photos, as the conversion sometimes causes the photos to become slightly fuzzy (probably not noticeable to most folks, but I can tell). I also erased the stones in the background b/c I felt it took away from the picture. Not necessary, and they could have been cropped out, but I didn’t want to lose empty space. On its own, this photo is fine. Very cool. I could have boosted the colors slightly and called it a day. But I’m slightly obsessed with this free lomo action (watch the tutorial and read up on actions if you are unfamiliar with them or how they work). I decided to run it and see if it made the picture any better.

And I loved the results. But, had the photo not been good on its own, this would have looked bad. Because I’ve tried this action on photos that weren’t “right” and it looked awful.

And before you say “what did people do before photoshop?” Well, people have been doing stuff in the darkroom since photography began. It’s an art. I don’t feel my photos are less genuine because I use “make up” on them.

I don’t work for my camera and photoshop. They work for me.

Special thanks to Suzanne who expressed interest in photography “tutorials”. I’m no expert, but I’m happy to share what I know. Expect more of these types of posts!

Kid-friendly “Sushi”

My kids love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If I let them, they would eat it for every single meal.

I don’t know where I originally read about PB&J sushi, but it stuck in the back of my mind, so one day I made it on a whim. Needless to say, it was extremely popular in our house. I served it at both birthday parties last year and it was a hit with kids and adults alike. I also make it every time we go out for sushi as a family (they are wishy-washy when it comes to the real deal).

Since I don’t know where it originated, I can’t give proper attribution, but I did not invent this. I’m just sharing one of our favorite ways to sandwich.

When constructing, you can keep the crusts on or off and you can flatten the bread slightly with a rolling pin. I’ve found that cutting the crusts and flattening the bread helps it roll up better. But, personal preference reigns supreme. Spread a small amount of peanut butter on half of the bread, jelly on the other half. When you roll, make sure you roll UP. That way you have both peanut butter & jelly on every roll. After you have your bread rolled, cut. Easy, right? One slice of bread usually yields 5-6 rolls, depending on how big the bread is, and how big you cut the rolls.

Then, EAT.

The beauty of this “recipe” is that it requires only slightly more work than an ordinary sandwich, but it is so fun for kids to eat. If you have older kids, you can serve it with chopsticks, but it is an ideal finger food for little ones.

Play around with variations! Other yummy mix & match options are:

  • Nutella
  • Marshmallow Fluff
  • Almond Butter
  • Apple Butter
  • Flavored cream cheese

The possibilities are probably endless, but if you do try something different, let me know how it turns out!

Wordless Wednesday: “He is so much cooler than our dads”

I want to see your Wordless Wednesdays too! Link up!

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Sorry, Wrong Number

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment before, you’re probably familiar with the call box. Some call it the buzzer or the gate box. I’m sure you’ve heard it called something else, as it goes by many different names.

The basic premise of the call box is this: your telephone number is programmed into the box. When someone comes to your building they can (depending on how fancy said building is) scroll through a screen, find your name and push the button to ring your apartment, OR push your apartment code into a dial-pad on a big metal box. This calls your home phone and the person can talk to you from a speaker on the call box. You then press a code you have been given to release the gate lock and they can come to your door. I know on TV there are little receivers in the apartment, but we’ve never had that experience. All of ours have been attached to our telephone number.

Bill and I have lived in a handful of different apartments since we’ve been together. Before I lived with him, I lived in a dorm room and an apartment with friends with similar systems. Needless to say, we’re familiar with the call box. We’ve had the fancy scroll through kind, the big metal box kind, and other variations in between.

In the 12 years I have lived on my own, I have NEVER had the problems with a call box that I have now.

I live in a house.

Without a call box.

We moved into our last apartment in June of 2007. It was a bigger, 2-bedroom apartment. The building was smaller and older than our last apartment, but the inside was nice and it suited our family of three. It was Apartment “A”, the first one in the building. If you walked up the stairs to the front gate, you could reach out and tap our apartment windows.

During the time we lived there, from June of 2007 until September of 2009, we would get calls from the front gate, asking if we were the manager, if we could let them in because someone in another apartment wasn’t answering their phone, etc. etc. It seems that most people just automatically started ringing people’s homes to be let inside the complex. We have even had people bang on our windows and yell at us to let them in. Classy!

When we found this house, we couldn’t believe our luck. A washer and a dryer! A YARD!

Plus? We have a front door. With a DOORBELL. No more call box!

We thought it was funny, at first. The phone rings. PRIVATE CALLER says the caller ID box. Since we have a few family members whose numbers come up that way, we tend to answer those calls.

“Hi…I’ve got a package for apartment B, they aren’t answering. Can you buzz me in?”

“Um. No. I don’t live there. We moved and they must not have changed our number out yet. I’m sorry!”

This was how we initially answered these calls. We were polite and tried to be informative. We weren’t just being dicks and not letting them in. Our codes (we think) no longer worked. We tried a couple of times to push the codes, but after a month it just got ridiculous.

Then the months wore on and we were still getting the calls. I called the management company.

The calls seemed to stop. But, we would still get a trickle of them. I even had a few VERY upset censuses takers who accused me of lying and not letting them into the building. They started questioning where I currently lived. I told grandma to never fear, we had turned our census packet in and to have a nice day.

And here we are, almost 18 months later, and we STILL get calls requesting us to open the front door. I got one today and I tried to be nice. I did. But, dammit, they never want Apartment A. They always want someone else. If they aren’t home, why are you bugging the rest of the building??? So I may or may not have been snappy.

I’m sorry random delivery person. I really am. I just need to start saying “Sorry, wrong number” and hanging up. It would make my life much easier.

If I had food poisoning, I would feel worse, right?

Protein bar for breakfast. A variety of veggies and homemade hummus for lunch; some Snapea Crisps and then, for dessert I had a tablespoonful of Nutella. I felt fine for the majority of the day. There was light nausea that started last night before dinner. I ate dinner anyway (salami & cheese with crackers). I immediately regretted it.

I REALLY hope that it isn’t food poisoning, because those are some of my favorite things.

I took some Pepto. No relief. A few hours later I took anti-nausea pills. I went to bed. I woke up. Still, my stomach was queasy. No puke. Just the other end of the spectrum. Wouldn’t I be puking if it were actual food poisoning? Would I be able to sit up and write a post that contains entirely too much information? Side note: please don’t stop reading my blog…please? I’ll be back to normal stuff soon, I promise.

And no, I’m not pregnant. NOT pregnant.

I tried drinking some iced tea this morning and my stomach was having none of it, so I don’t want to eat. This means my stomach is doing that “Hey, I’m hungry…no, I’m queasy…no, I’m hungry…” bullshit that it usually does when you have a stomach bug.

What annoys me the most? I’m trying to justify NOT working out. Um, hello weirdo. I am still holding out hope that maybe I will feel better by the time I pick Olivia up from preschool, so I can do my workout while they are napping. I’m actually planning on it. I just want ONE week where I don’t have an off day. I think maybe I am expecting too much from myself. In fact, I’ve done pretty damn good to be as healthy as I have been since my house has been a petri dish and everyone EXCEPT me has been really really sick with this cold/flu/whatever they had. Which never happens.

P90X Update: Week 4

This was my recovery week. My workouts were different and I had two days of rest/stretch instead of one.

Day 22 (Monday): Today I did Yoga X. I think in previous weeks I have glossed over the fact that there are lots of poses that are beyond my skill level, nor do I have the flexibility I want to maintain a straight form in many of the poses, but I do my best. I still do the modified standing leg position, with my knee tucked instead of my leg straight in front of me. The Crane position is one I always sit out. It is a freaking handstand, something which I have mastered in the pool, but on land, not so much. I did the entire hour and a half (sitting out or falling out of a handful of poses–no more than 5 minutes worth) and felt really good after.

Day 23 (Tuesday): Core Synergistics were today, and I felt really good about the majority of the workout, it was harder to get it completed; I’ve noticed the later in the morning/day I begin, the harder it is to keep the girls occupied. Since Olivia had dance lessons earlier that morning, my workout was pushed to almost 11 a.m. It was harder to focus with the munchkins wanting to “help” me with my exercise, but I did what I could. I also did a very clunky Dreya Roll. It was awful looking and my form was horrible, but I did it.

Day 24 (Wednesday): I woke up feeling awful. I couldn’t think straight and I was in a haze. I decided not to push it and if I felt better in the afternoon I could do my work out. I didn’t, so I decided to switch my days, as Thursday was supposed to be my X Stretch day, so I rearranged my schedule.

Day 25 (Thursday): Today I felt much better, so I did the Kenpo X that had been scheduled for Wednesday. I gave this workout my all, almost as if I was trying to make up for Wednesday’s illness.

Day 26 (Friday): After my Cardio workout I realized that the program was designed in a very specific way. There was a reason X Stretch had been scheduled between the Kenpo X and the Cardio. I felt every single move and my every piece of me hurt. I was so sore when I went to bed that night. Ben Gay was applied to my neck, shoulders and back. I felt a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders, and I believe that is what was causing so many headaches.

Day 27 (Saturday): I couldn’t move when I woke up. I was so sore. I knew that trying to do an hour and a half of Yoga X would not be pretty. But I wanted to do something, so I decided to do the X Stretch that I had skipped Thursday. I really don’t know why I thought it would be a short, breezy little stretchy workout. It was 60 minutes of stretching. Yoga poses, Core Synergistics stuff, and new stretches were introduced. I didn’t break out in a flop sweat, but I was definitely feeling it after the hour was over and I had started lightly sweating. I also knew after that work out I had made the right choice in skipping the Yoga. I was trying to listen to my body and not my brain, which is sometimes really hard for me.

Day 28 (Sunday): Still very sore, and a little bummed after my weigh in, but I am trying to look on the bright side and push on. I finished Phase One of P90X. That has to count for something, right?

Here are a few things I feel will help make my workout better after Week 4:

  • Sleep is important. I need to make sure I am getting enough every night. Just like water, sleep is necessary.
  • My flexibility has improved, but I need to really push myself to uncomfortable levels so I can start doing more of the poses that are difficult for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to hurt myself, but I enjoy seeing improvement.
  • Listen to my body. I need to get out of my head and just do what I can. Stop beating myself up so much.

Notes for Week 4:

  • I gained about a half a pound back. It bums me out. It shouldn’t. But it does. I’m trying to be positive and realize that minor setbacks are going to happen, but I can’t shake it right now. Ask me again tomorrow.
  • I have noticed my arms are looking a little more toned. I’m horrible at flexing, but I can tell a slight difference when I turn my arms certain ways. That makes me happy.
  • As I said above, my flexibility has improved. When doing sitting down hamstring stretches, I can grab the top of my foot right under my toes with both hands. I was at my ankle when I started. No nose to the knee yet, but I’m getting there.
  • I  need to really work on relaxing and stretching my neck and upper body, as the tension headaches I mentioned above are really intense. More ballistic stretching is needed. And maybe a massage.

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