Monthly Archives: January 2009

Thrifty Thursday: the dress-up box

Owen pretending to be a chicken.

Owen pretending to be a chicken.

Unplugged-play is back by popular demand. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a parenting trend) to know that allowing kids to play creatively and freely is a good thing. Yes, my two-year-old watches television. I’m not a Nazi about it. If it wasn’t for that thirty minute block of Blues Clues in the morning I probably wouldn’t shower for months at a time. Besides, Owen loves it. (Okay, throw in a Disney Pixar movie once or twice a month too.) Other than that, if we’re inside, the TV stays off during the day. And we prefer toys that don’t require batteries, just brain power.

“Electronic games are pre programmed with finite possible responses, they limit the imagination. A child who draws, paints, builds and invents experiences a creativity that has no boundaries.”
–Bobbi Conner, author of Unplugged Play: No batteries. No plugs. Pure fun.

I’ve been putting together a Dress-up Box for Owen over the last year. It would be silly to buy any of that kind of stuff new. Thrift stores are perfect for this. I found some great stuff around Halloween at Fantastic Thrift, Diversity Thrift and Goodwill. Ikea had some cute, cheap masks around that time as well (see photo above).

Dress-up was one of my favorite activities as a kid, and one I hope Owen will like as well. It’s fun watching him enter into the “make-believe” phase: pretending to eat fake food or feeding it to a stuffed animal, wearing Mom and Dad’s shoes. Lately Owen has decided that he is a big league baseball player.

the dress-up box

the dress-up box

Here’s what we have so far:
Fire fighters hat
Construction work hat (complete with anti-scab stickers)
Velvet magicians cape
Bumble-bee costume
Lion and Hippo costume
clip on ties
various hats (straw, and derby hats)
scarves and boas
tool box and tools
feather Mardi Gras masks




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Isa’s Hats

Stephanie Boarman.

Isa's hats. Photo credit: Stephanie Boarman.

I got this letter from my friend Stephanie this morning. What a sobbering thing:

Dear friends – I have a childhood friend, a best friend, that has a sick a little girl. this is the kind of sickness we all fear. She has leukemia. You can read about their journey to date on the blog link above.
As parents, we all pray that we will dodge this bullet. So, when it hits someone close to you, you feel it in many ways. You feel selfish relief that it wasn’t yours. You feel guilt that maybe when you dodged, it them. You feel excruciating fear, anger, rage and sadness for the people you care about. You feel past mistakes you’ve made with your own kids, with your family, friends and loved ones. Finally, you start to hold your breath waiting for the moment you hear that everything is going to be okay. This all happens in the first 60 minutes.

When the sobbing is done you start to take action. I have started to take action. I am hoping to raise money for this family while they are dislocated living in an apartment close to the hospital while Isa undergoes treatment. Raising money to offset the expenses they are incurring so they can be close to their daughter through this whole process is the best I can do for them now. The last thing you should have to worry about when your daughter is fighting for health – is how you are going to afford to buy dish soap, or disinfectant, or groceries, or gas money, etc. They are also hoping to raise money for the hospital wagons (which you can read about in the blog above). This is a good family that will pay it forward when their crises is done, and they come across someone else in need of help.
So – I am selling hats for Isa. These hats are $15.00 each and every penny (minus the cost to buy the materials) will go straight to her family. Oh yeah – and they are SUPER COOL

Please order from my website – tell me how many you want and what sizes. I will also be entertaining help to produce these. My expectations are high for all of you, I expect a flood of orders! when that happens I will be calling on my sewing friends to come over and help me knock these puppies out!

Thank you dear friends

Here is the family’s blog:

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Words can’t express what I feel today. On more than one occasion I found myself having to catch my breath.

President Obama taking the oath of office.

President Obama taking the oath of office.

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Sunday funny.

This blog cracks me up. Also read Party in Apartment 3. I was practically shaking I laughed so hard. I really need to get ready for work. I can’t stop reading. I may be late. I don’t know who this David fellow is, but thank you. I’ll be going to work happy.

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The latest on our favorite little man.

tough guy face

tough guy face

Owen’s Stats:
Weight: 28 lbs. (50th percentile)
Height: 35 1/4 in. (75th percentile)
Head Circumference: 19 3/4 in. (75th percentile)

January 17, 2009: He did really well when he got his flu shot. And even better when they took a blood sample. He sat on my lap and I distracted him by talking about the Pinocchio poster in the hallway. We got home and he said “band aide” when I took it off his leg. That was a first. He has some dry patches we’ve been putting ointment on and we’ll have to watch this winter when everything is so dry. Owen is a healthy boy and developing right on pace.

Wednesday night we had dinner with friends (my beet cake was a hit) and Alex taught Owen how to catch a football. We were so excited! He normally lets the ball bounce off his chest. Owen glowed every time he caught the ball; he was so proud. Vittoria looked fantastic and I can’t wait for that little girl to get here (probably not as ready as she is 🙂 )

We are going to start potting training in ernest. I think he’s ready. Dr. Barto said to bite the bullet in next couple of weeks and put him in underwear. Peeing in your pants doesn’t feel nice and is very motivating. That makes sense to me. Owen and I picked up “big boy underpants” at Target. Guess what he picked out? Lightning Mcqueen and Elmo. No surprise there.

Love to our two favorite “Gammas,”
The Marks.

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You can keep it.

We were in Northern Ohio for my best friends wedding this past weekend (which was fabulous, and wonderful). The morning of her wedding was a level 2 snow advisory, meaning, “Don’t be on the road unless it’s absolutely necessary.” Level 3 means, “We will ticket you if you are stupid enough to be out in this mess.”

People in Richmond THINK they want snow. They say they want a White Christmas. And, my personal favorite, “If it’s going to be cold we might as well have snow.” First off,  35-40 degrees is not cold. Snow = 22 degrees (and lower. Much, much lower). Twenty-two degrees is cold. And secondly, it doesn’t stay pretty. It turns into wet, grayish, crap and if you don’t want to hibernate for a couple months (or if you are from Ohio — or something crazy like Upstate New York — winter lasts for-ev-er) you will eventually have to leave your house in this:

You can't see the road? Yeah, we couldn't either.

You can't see the road? Yeah, we couldn't either.


See the people behind me? They are ducking there heads and covering there faces and running to the car. Why? Because it was freakin’ freezing!!!! I understand, there are those folks out there that LIVE for snow. They (claim) to LOVE it. I’m convinced they are just making the best of a bad situation.

Ohio. You can keep the snow. No. Thank. You.

By-the-way: Here’s the beautiful bride on her wedding day. She was GORGEOUS! Totally worth the trek through the snow.

Don Mark.

Photo credit: Don Mark.


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Dwight Schrute and Fellow Beet Lovers.

Dwight Schrute. Fellow beet lover.

Dwight Schrute. Fellow beet lover.

I love beets. Love them. Roasted in a little olive oil and they taste like candy. Seriously. I had spinach, beet and mushroom salad for lunch today. Heavy on the beets. I made a dish with beets and goat cheese when Dane visited last summer. He and Don freaked out but promised they’d try it. There weren’t any leftovers. They became beet loving converts.

We are having dinner at a friends house this evening and I said I’d bring the dessert. Secret Chocolate Cake. One guess on what the secret is…

2 cups beets cooked, peeled and chopped (I cheated and used canned beets. I have something else in store for the fresh ones in our fridge).
1/2 cup applesauce (we used the unsweeted kind. Mott’s #2 ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. yummy).
Puree’ in blender until smooth. Set aside

1 1/2 cups suger
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
(which I started to make in our crock-pot because I’m awesome)
3 eggs
Combine in a large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer 2 minutes.

1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 1/2 t vanilla

Add along with the pureed beets; beat another 90 seconds.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t sale
1 t cinnamon
Gradually sift into the batter, mixing it in with a spoon but stirring only until blended.

1/2 c chocolate chips and/or nuts (chopped)
Stir in. Pour into greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350F until knife inserted in center comes out clean (40-50 min). To bake in a bundt pan, pour half of batter into the greased pan, sprinkle choc chips evenly on top, then add remaining to batter.

Summer variation: Substitue 2-3 Cups shredded raw zucchini or summer squash for the cooked, pureed beets. Use cinnamon and add 1/2 t allspice.

From the cookbook Simply in Season: a world community cookbook. This cake is good plain, but I’d image would be good frosted (or served in bowls with applesauce).

Note: I am not delusional. I realize that just because this contains whole wheat and my beloved beets, it is not health food. It’s dessert. Also, I am not advocating the “hide your kid’s vegetables” craze (i.e. Sneaky Chef,  Deceptively Delicious). I think this is  a ludicrous trend. Kids should learn to eat, and love, vegetables. Not vegetables parading as chocolate cake.

However, chocolate cake with beta carotene…and folate…and vitamin C …and, you get the idea….is not a bad thing.


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