Saturday, December 29, 2012

You got to move it, move it...

As close family and friends know, we like to move this treadmill. Well, we don't really like to move it, but we do. A lot. It's been assembled, disassembled and reassembled. It lived upstairs and down, been pushed to the max, then left to sit many moons after the birth of our children. And it still works. 

Since it's the time of year for reflecting, rejoicing and renewing, we'll give it a new home, again. It'll make some much needed space. Plus, it might just reinvigorate us to get back in the exercise routine. I hope. 

How are you spending your weekend? Reflecting, relaxing or moving heavy equipment? Enjoy it, whatever you decide!

Photo on it's way!

I've actually used this thing once since we moved it. It makes a funny sound now whether I increase or decrease speed, but blasting music through the headphones seems to do the trick! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Not a creature was stirring...

After a day full of anticipation and excitement about tonight's gift-giving guest, our kids are nestled all snug in their beds. Sounds nice, but our long winter's nap will have to wait. Parents, you know what I mean. 

It's Christmas Eve. We're all excited about Santa's arrival and the morning festivities. So excited in fact, we've cooked, cleaned, stuffed, wrapped, set-up photography and it's not yet midnight! That doesn't always happen. So why write a blog? It's important to make note of these milestones. It's also important to share some good. 

So, if you need a boost to get across the holiday finish line try reading 5 things to enjoy this holiday, laugh at a Twelve Days of Christmas Remix, or reminisce about all the things between chaos and Christmas and be thankful for every moment.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Remix)

I’m a fan of music and the holidays. This year I’ve got such a long To-do list, it inspired me to rewrite “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to reflect how fun and crazy the holidays get around our house.

Whether you’re young or old, a parent or student, it’s the time of year to celebrate, just try not to take everything so seriously. Here’s my rewrite and the original in case you can't remember the words.

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Remix)

12 Toy assemblies
11 Missing pieces
10 Without instructions
9 Batteries needed
8 Trips to Target
7 Cookies later
6 Gifts not wrapped yet
5 Hours ‘til dawn
4 Pounds of coffee
3 Broken light sets
2 Tired parents
And a Brand New Vacuum Cleaner!

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Original, I think)

12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords-a-leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids-a-milking
7 Swans-a-swimming
6 Geese-a-laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling (or Colly) Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Misfit Toys

Friday, December 7, 2012

Write a blog post, earn a nickel!

Less than three minutes after my last posting I found a nickel! Sounds crazy, but it's more than I expected to make blogging about family, food and fun. To be honest, I found it in the dryer, so I guess it's actually laundry money, but I don't usually make any money washing clothes, so it's all good. 

You might wonder, what is she going to do with that five-cent haul? I could buy a pack of gum if I lived in the 50s or had a time machine, but I don't. For now, I'll stash it away for college/retirement/vacation/coffee, all are top priority investments around our house.

Maybe my nickel will be a dime tomorrow and soon I'll find millions tumbling around in the dryer or in some other part of the house I've neglected while writing. No matter, surprise money is always welcome. :)

Try them! Try them! And you may (like them).

Bored with plain old green beans? Put away the can opener and try these Mediterranean Braised Green Beans from Cook’s Illustrated. They have the flavor and texture of long-cooked beans in less than an hour's time.

I liked the flavor and the recipe was easy to follow, but something was missing. I'll add some meaty olives or crunchy nuts next time and see if it punches them up even more. Try them, you may like them. Here's the recipe I tested. You can find more in Cook's Illustrated magazine and online. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Braised Green Beans
Serves 4 to 6


5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 ½ cups water
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2- to 3-inch lengths
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped coarse with juice reserved
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 to 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add water, baking soda, and green beans, and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, tomatoes and juice, salt, and pepper.

2. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are tender and sauce is slightly thickened, 45 to 50 minutes. Stir in parsley and vinegar to taste. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and serve (Beans can be cool to room temperature before serving).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Book Deals

A little birdie told me (actually it was Publisher's Weekly) today is a great day to check out online bookstore deals. 

Several retailers like Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo are offering deep discounts. PW mentions these retailers are passing on some heavy e-book discounts from Open Road Media to their customers today.

Happy shopping!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Metro Parent - Tummy time tips

Check out my latest Metro Parent article. Parents can find some good tummy time tips and info. Whether you’ve got a screamer or a squirmer, we’ve got you covered. You can read about it in the November issue on newsstands now.

Ann Arbor Family – Roll over Beethoven

Here’s a brief published in Ann Arbor Family. It’s about a “Beethoven to Jimi” class at Rudolf Steiner High School. Yes, it’s Beethoven to Hendrix and they get to study iconic pieces like Beethoven’s 9th and Hendrix’s version of the “Star Spangled Banner.” You can read it online or in the November issue.

Now, I've got the urge to get out my guitar...and take some lessons!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Love these...Hand-Turkey Paper Dolls (from Parents)

Here's an adorable Thanksgiving craft idea from Parents. I had to show you, but you can see and download the real deal here. They have a bunch of other cute ideas, check them out when you want to gobble up Thanksgiving ideas.

(Go ahead. It's ok, we're well within my six week holiday rule.) :)

Hand-Turkey Paper Dolls printable

Friday, October 26, 2012

Music you should hear

I admit it. I'm a fan of Nashville on ABC. If I started out unsure before the first episode, I was convinced when I heard the music. By the end of the pilot, a smoldering number sung by Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen, "If I Didn't Know Better" hooked me. It got even better when they sang "Fade Into You" this week. The young characters have an attraction that jumps off the screen every time they sing. I've downloaded the songs and can't wait to hear what comes next. Not sure how the numbers will play out, so tune in if you can, check out episodes on ABC here and listen to the tunes. There's real depth to some of the songs — sample a bit of old country angst with lyrics like "Til there's no way to know where you end and where I begin." 

The series was created by Callie Khouri, who won an Academy Award for Thelma & Louise. The music comes from some amazing singers and songwriters. On October 2, 2012, it was announced that Big Machine Records will release all covers and original songs from the series. Some of the original songs will be written by John Paul White of The Civil WarsHillary Lindsey, and Elvis Costello. (Wiki and The Hollywood Reporter) The HW story has more details here

Monday, October 22, 2012

Common Tipping Mistakes - Link

It's the time of year we start thinking about the people in our lives and what they mean. Friends, family and those who help get us through. Here is an article and video link highlighting common tipping mistakes. Good to reference when you need it. 

Here's to the Holidays!

Common Tipping Mistakes - Link to Yahoo!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Yay Food! - Ann Arbor Family

I'm excited to share this Ann Arbor Family brief about Yay Food! They make fresh-from-the-farm baby food and deliver to A2, Dexter and Saline areas for free! You can read all about their yum-yums in the October issue or check it out at AAF online.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Attention Music and Movie Lovers - Adele's "Skyfall" Theme Song Leaked

This just in from Mashable. Adele is rumored to be the voice for the latest James Bond movie's theme song. The Skyfall theme won’t officially be available until 7:07 p.m. ET on Oct. 4, but you can listen to part of it here:

Mashable: Adele's 'Skyfall' Theme Song Leaks

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's Happening - Ann Arbor Family

If you're looking for fun family events in A2, check out the latest Ann Arbor Family for some cool stuff. You'll find everything from archaeology digs to live performances in the October edition and through these links: 

X marks the spot — The Kelsey
Imagination takes center stage — Michigan Theater
We got the beat! — Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra
Let's build something — LEGO KidsFest

Kids and oral health - Metro Parent

I'm excited to share my latest from Metro Parent. While researching, I learned a child's oral health can really impact their grades. You can read all about it in the October issue. Check out the awesome cover and sneak a peek at other articles inside this month's issue at Metro Parent online

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More meat, less loaf

The food perfectionists at Cook’s Illustrated are onto something with this recipe. A mushroom mixture adds moisture and flavor to classic meatloaf, and traditional ketchup glaze gets a zesty twist.

Of course, when I tested it previously the process was more arduous. And I told them so. I had to pulverize dried mushrooms into what the family lovingly calls porcini dust — the stuff was messy, but magic. I also had to process a portion of the pork with the eggs. Having only stuck meat in a food processor once before, I was hesitant, but when done properly, it does work. (Click here for the slammin' salami sauce video. Great over pasta.)

The result was a deliciously flavored main dish, our resident meatloaf aficionados agree. But, I’m glad the Test Kitchen folks made some changes to help save steps, and time. Gone are the porcini dust and meat processor steps, in are sautéed mushrooms and onions.

Here is the CI version in video formYou can also check out the current Cook's Illustrated issue for the more-meat-less-loaf recipe and plenty of other great tips. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stop the madness, it’s not October yet!

There’s just something about a too-early Halloween that bugs me. Normally, I’m a happenin’ holiday kind of girl, but lately it seems as though we’re rushing from one to the next, which leaves little time for enjoyment. 

I get that you need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to seasonal shifts in merchandise. But, can I please finish my poolside lounging and adjust to the back-to-school routine before you drag out ghosts and goblins?

It’s no wonder I’m hesitant to take my kid to Target. They’ve already got aisles of spooky decorations and Halloween candy. Someone in a high place maybe forgot how hard it is for parents to handle eager children begging for sweet treats and costumes — hey, it’s hard for parents too. Some of those lit-up pumpkins are adorable. But, I cringed before school even started when I saw BTS on its way out and Spook-fest on its way in. Yikes!

As a way of protesting, sort of, I’m recommending we hold off on buying candy and costumes for at least one more week. I’d say until the end of the month, but I’m not crazy. I know the selection for costumes will probably be so poor, you’ll be digging through your basement for leftover boxes to make a robot outfit, which is not an entirely bad idea. Last year we saw a kid dressed in cardboard, he was a cereal box, and a darn cute one at that. They used a lot of paint, but he really looked like a box of Fruity-O Flakes or something. (I have to be careful what cereal I reference because my sis in law is now a big exec for the Kellogg Co. I'm not a paid endorser, just a fan :)

With all my soap-box protestation, I admittedly will bring out the end of year holiday decorations as soon as possible after Thanksgiving. You can read about it here, but I think it’s perfectly allowable since it can take weeks of work to get family heirlooms in place when you have kids running around the same indoor space you’re trying to decorate. That being said, I’m saying let six weeks or so be the guide. If you can wait to sell me spookiness until a month and a half out, I’ll buy. Heck, I’ll probably buy sooner, but I’ll be less irritated by it around then.

So, here’s to squeezing out the last drops of summer as it transitions to a bountiful fall. Go outside. Take a walk, bike, hike or drive. Get thee to a festival and enjoy doing something together. Just don’t scare me with your ghoulish garb before next week or I just might bring out the lit-up deer and snowman early and see how you like it, mwahahahah.

Make plans to hit a festival or family event in your area.  Check out these sites and find out more of what’s happening in your area. 

Remember, every day is special - enjoy it!

SYOAS - See you online again soon!

Aww, not yet.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Autumn’s first blush

A couple of weeks ago there was a shift in the weather—it felt like fall. This past weekend was similar with damp, cool mornings and clear, warm afternoons. The season is changing and there are signs everywhere.

I overheard a conversation between parents and teachers who were excited about the season change, but lamenting the fact dressing kids during these transitional days is a chore. I sent my kid to school in a dress with leggings and a light jacket. By lunch she’ll probably need shorts and a t-shirt. The beauty of where we are is we get to experience a real weather transition. While we may have to pack clothes for three seasons, I think it’s worth it.

I observed and photographed more signs of autumn’s approach and thought I’d share.

On the way to class the other day I noticed numbers of birds perched atop wires as if evaluating their next flight path—contemplating a warm trip South no doubt as it was cold. The sun fought to shine through layers of high, stationary clouds and low, fast-moving clouds. It was quite a scene. Should’ve taken video.

Then after watching the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix Sunday we hopped in a prototype Fiat and took a drive. I can’t say anything about the car other than, wow! I can, however, tell you about other things. Feathery grasses bending and twisting under the weight of autumn’s heavy breath. Cerulean skies, white clouds and pine landscapes dotted with yellow and orange bits as the trees start their transition.

Just take a moment or two to observe the changes going on and you might find a few things to appreciate about this amazing time. Enjoy!

First blush

Birds on a wire and autumn sky

Sunday drive

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How to make a power outage fun

We lost power twice this morning. The first was one of those quick flashes. It catches you off-guard, you start shaking your head (tisk, tisk) and planning for the worst when suddenly it’s back on and you think It could have been so much worse.

Then some time later a second one hit, only this time it took. The second outage lasted longer than a flash so we were left wondering What happened to the power, it’s a clear day? Did someone strike a pole, how awful, or is there a larger system problem? How long will it be out? What on earth will we do and will there be spoiled food to trash when it’s all said and done?

Fret not dear readers, for even in power outages, especially those on pleasant summer mornings, there is plenty to accomplish. Why, just look at all we were able to do when just the TV broke

It was actually quite nice. There was no struggle over who gets to watch what after breakfast. No argument over the iToys. No racing, no cooking, not even kid shows could distract us from the gloriously beautiful day outside and a peaceful shower for mom inside (we use a gas heater).

No worries about the game either, we planned to hit the local sports bar for a little college football if push came to shove. We were set. And it was good.

I don’t know how long the power was out because we were too busy to notice. I got the aforementioned undistracted shower and the kids and dad played wear each other out.

So you see, losing power, under the right circumstances, can be a good thing. Even in winter, another story for another time. If you just relax, you can use the time to reconnect with family, talk to each other or reboot. Kind of like hitting the shutdown button on the computer, as I am about to do. Try unplugging every once in a while, you might like it.

Photo: Sprinkle Shoes by Kristen Gibson

Friday, August 31, 2012

Toledo Area Parent – Not your mama’s cloth diapers

Here’s the latest article published in Toledo Area Parent. It’s about a cool little store called Squishy Tushy. They carry all sorts of cloth diapers and accessories. Find it online at Toledo Area Parent or in the September issue.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cider house rules!

I thought about summer yesterday, but this morning was perfectly autumn. Cool, in the mid-fifties and dewy glistening grass.

So I packed the kids up and headed to the cider mill. We were first in line and first out the door with warm cider and donuts. I feel so much better now. Considering I was up shortly after five with a crying tot, thinking the day was going to suck, that’s saying a lot.

Fighting the urge to fall over tired, but filled with yummy apple goodness, I’ll do my best to take on the day. Bring. It. On.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What summer?

If there is a pace to summer, a slower-sipping-iced-sun-tea-you-made-yourself kind of pace, we haven't found it. Or if we did, it didn't last long. 

I don't normally complain about summer changing to fall, but I'd like to enjoy more of it before the back-to-school, whoops, it's already Thanksgiving, melee begins. So, I decided to fill our schedules with every possible summer fun kind of activity these next couple weeks. With the exception of a (crossing fingers) cider mill visit, we'll be swimming, golfing, playing tennis, chalking, walking, hiking and triking our way around the area. Sounds fun, right? 

Well, even if I'm aiming a little high, I hope we can enjoy these last days before school bells and backpacks bursting with homework. What are your end of summer plans?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

London 2012 Closing Ceremony

Here's a link so you can check out highlights of the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, featuring performances by One Direction, Pet Shop Boys, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Jessie J, Taio Cruz, Spice Girls, Liam Gallagher, Muse and more.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Findlay Area Family - Tons of Back to School Tips

My latest articles published in Findlay Area Family offer tips on everything from first day jitters to healthy lunches. Check out the great advice from teachers, dietitians, counselors and moms in Edible Energy and Study Guide. You can find more online at Findlay Area Family or in the August issue available now.

Photo: Alphabet Soup by Kristen Gibson

Friday, July 27, 2012

Best of the British (Olympics and Music)

Rumors are swirling around the Twitter-sphere about whether Sir Paul McCartney will be singing Hey Jude, Yesterday or Imagine at the Opening Ceremony. Hopefully, they won't pull the plug on him like they did at a recent jam session with The Boss. Whatever he has planned, it's sure to be historic. Other rumored performers include: The Who, Muse, The Rolling Stones and Adele. Wondering what else is planned? This link from the London Olympic website explains everything from Receiving the Head of State to the Parade of Athletes and the Official Opening of the 2012 Olympic Games.

They note: A total cast of 15,000 will take part in the London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremonies, which will be watched by an estimated audience of four billion. Tremendous, awesome, incredible when you think about the number—four billion!

As far as the Closing Ceremony goes, the London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG) announced that the Ceremony would be titled ‘A Symphony of British Music’. The theme will celebrate the fact that music has been one of Britain’s strongest cultural exports over the last 50 years. Organisers will work with some of the country’s most globally successful musicians, along with some of the industry's stars of tomorrow.

In honor if the London Olympics and British music, I’m posting a Best of the British Playlist. Several years ago while visiting our sister in Chicago, we strolled into a Virgin Mega Store and I found this CD. I’d really like to tell the person(s) who compiled this I dug the list then, and I still do. It’s filled with popular artists, but some of the selections are unexpected. Not everything is stellar, it's just a sampling of British music, but I highly recommend Bus Stop, Tubular Bells (suspense/horror film fans will recognize the tune) and the acoustic version of Days Go By. Definitely worth a listen.


1.    Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield
2.    Heroes by David Bowie
3.    Church of the Poison Mind by Culture Club
4.    Ever Fallen in Love? by The Buzzcocks
5.    Right Here, Right Now by Jesus Jones
6.    A Message to You Rudy by The Specials
7.    Girls on Film by Duran Duran
8.    Bus Stop by The Hollies
9.    If You Leave by Orchestral Maneuvres in the Dark
10. It’s My Life by Talk Talk
11. More Than This by Roxy Music
12. Days Go By (Acoustic version) by Dirty Vegas

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spanish-Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp

You could say I like to experiment in the kitchen. When just a child, I pulled all the pimentos out of a jar of olives and stuffed each one full of cottage cheese. Do you know how hard that is? Olive openings are pretty tiny and trying to get anything in there by hand is difficult. I tried several methods including fingers, spoons, knives and eventually got it in there with a fork. Well, it was really just a single fork tine, but I did it. It required plenty of practice and patience. Apparently, I had a lot of free time then, more than I seem to have since I got older. (Anyone else suddenly have a taste for bleu cheese olive martinis. Anyone? Too early?)

When I was offered the opportunity to test this seafood paella, my adventurous side took over and I thought, This might be fun, I’ve never made paella before. After peeling and deveining what seemed like all the shrimp in the sea, wrapping and breaking pasta noodles into just the right size pieces and creating a week’s worth of dirty dishes, I ended up with an impressive dish for sure. I’d tweak it for our family’s tastes, but if you want one of those serious dishes for serious company, this could be it.

I’d make sure to allow yourself plenty of time. Oh, and get the fishmonger to peel and devein the shrimp. I would have, except I was tight on time and bought the only fresh shrimp available.

Here’s a helpful Cook’s Illustrated video, they make it look so easy!

You can find the recipe on their site or in the July/August 2012 Cook’s Illustrated issue. I highly recommend serving the aioli along with it, yum! Here are some work in progress photos as well. Enjoy!

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