Friday, October 31, 2014

play it foward

Happy Halloween!!

We're ending our first month of READY, SET, PLAY with some paper fun.

Reese borrowed an Origami Book from the school library recently. While looking through it, we discovered that World Origami Days are celebrated from October 24 through November 11th.

"American origami pioneer Lillian Oppenheimer's birthday is on October 24th. November 11 is Japan's traditional Origami Day. During this time, people around the world fold origami and teach others their techniques."
                                           - No-Quite-So-Easy Origami by Mary Meinking

With this in mind, we decided to PLAY it forward and share a Halloween tutorial on how to make jack-o-lanterns, origami style.

Reese and I made our first video last night but then we had trouble uploading it. :-( So instead, we included some websites that feature written instructions with photos for you to follow. Just click HERE or HERE for origami pumpkins. 

Reese had a lot of fun making these jack-o-lanterns. She made a whole bag full this morning to share with her class at the Halloween party.

She's not the only one who likes origami. Here are some of our origami models as of late...Reese's 3D cube, Ethan's godzilla size frog (it really hops), my second attempt at a crane and David's chinese balloon that inspired our Jack-o-lanterns.

Happy trick or treating...enjoy your candy and we'll see ya next week for November's Rule, #2.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

reason #16 why our house rules...


Doesn't everyone have a Taj Mahal in their dining room?

Or a Tower Bridge in the living room?

How about a fish tank minus the tank?
(Watch out, the yellow fish bites.)
I'm sure this sword is a relic.
And these letters are pure inspiration.

We know LEGOs may not be everyone's style but they are ours.

This is not a dining table, this is the LEGO table,
complete with garage space just below.
One Christmas, the kids even convinced us to buy LEGOs for one another.
(Nah, secretly, we wanted them, too. Lego Christmas Village on the bay window:-)

 But the real beauty of decorating with LEGOS

is that someone is always building,

someone is always helping,

and someone is always dreaming

about the next, great piece that would look FABULOUS in our house.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Playing Halloween Tricks

We found a mystery package on our doorstep the other night. Were we scared? Nope, we had heard about friendly ghosts in the neighborhood who liked to share Halloween treats.

We got Boo-ed and we liked it!

Now we're making some "boo" packages of our own to share in the fun. So be forewarned, a ghost or two might visit your home soon.

Hugs and thanks to our little ghost (Reese's friend, Marissa) for all the great treats:-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I've already broken our first rule of PLAY

I don't know how it happened. We were I was doing fine, or, so I thought. But it was all right there, in black and white.

I blame my to-do list.

You see, normally, my to-do list is a source of accomplishment for me. I like the feeling of putting a check here and putting a check there. I LOVE crossing things off my list altogether. But last week's to-do lists weren't just about check marks. With all my jabbering on about electronics, I was looking at them differently and seeing something new.

While my daily to-do list was full of activity - chock full of need to do's, must do's and please do's - it had very little in the way of fun-to-do's that were for me. That's right, NO PLAY. Zero. Zilch. My eyes widened in horror. Oh boy, I thought, I'm in trouble. 

I told the kids. They smiled. They laughed. It was cruel. Oh, how they loved seeing this imperfect side of me! Still, they didn't ask how it happened or why it happened, they just kept asking what I was going to do now? Good question.

Honestly, in some ways, I was feeling myself just going through the motions of some days. It had been a very busy month, and yes, busy is good, but to a point. All work and no play makes Nancy a crazed mama!

So what to do? How was I going to inject some PLAY back into my days? It's sad to admit it but sometimes, I need a reminder, like a giant neon sign. I didn't have any neon signs lying around so I went with the next best thing, smiley faces. 

I really rely on my to-do lists so I started to mess around with a new design. These smiley faces remind me of my kids, small but pack a punch. (Reese is the one sticking her tongue, out.) They are a dose of happy and have just enough smirk to make me stop and think about PLAY, once again.

And that kiddos, is a good way to start any day! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Me, myself and my electronics

So what did I find out when I tracked my electronic use for a week?
  • I check my phone on average 15 times a day.
  • I spend 2-3 hours (plus) a day on my devices (phone, kindle and computer)
The plus relates to extra time spent working on this blog. And no, the irony of that is not lost on me.

These numbers don't shock me. I half expected them. I'm a busy gal and my devices are an integral part of my day. What I didn't expect was the little habits I had developed around them.

The fact that my phone is the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing I look at night bothers me. Ugh to the fact that I cannot not look at my phone when I hear it "ding" and heavy sigh, when I realize that sometimes, I reach for a device quicker than I reach out to a person.

Devices keep us in the loop but haven't they also changed our sense of connection? In a landscape of likes, LOL's and emoticons, who is still talking? And if life is about connection, how many times a day do we connect without a device?

If we knew, would we think differently about the choices we make?

I know that Siri will seek out a list of possible answers to any question I ask her but sometimes an instant answer isn't what I need. Some questions want time, time at a friend's house and a leisurely chat - the slower, the better - over a few cups of tea. 

I know that I can look up millions of recipes on the internet but I can also choose to call my mom and ask her for a recipe. All those family favorites, I know she keeps them tucked away in a little, square, cardboard box in the small cabinet next to the fridge. Learning her recipes and secrets will mean more to me than any 4 star recipe by Giada, or Ina.

These are just a few choices but there are so many more that we make everyday. Even right now.

I don't know how to end a post like this so maybe you should. Click the "x" in the upper right-hand corner. Shut down your computer. Go find someone, look them in the eye and

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Play with your food

Waffles. I used to think that no one loved waffles as much as Reese. And then I read a feature in Newsday about Daniel Shumski and his cookbook, Will It Waffle?

"Shumski, the creator of, started a blog about all things waffle. Has has developed 53 recipes for everything from pizza to filet mignon, all cooked on the countertop in his waffle iron."

What?!! Yep, you read that right. He cooks EVERYTHING in his waffle iron. 

When I told Reese this, she smiled at the fantasy of breakfast, lunch and dinner a la waffle maker. When I showed her a cookie recipe we could try, she was cheering to high heaven!

The ingredients were easy to gather and the recipe was super easy to follow.

 Cooking times will vary according to waffle makers and your definition of "heaping". Play around to find your best cookie time. You won't be disappointed.

It's a funny experience eating a waffle cookie. It looks like a waffle, it has the same texture like a waffle but the taste inside is all cookie:-) Enjoy!!

Waffled Oatmeal-Chocolate-Chip Cookies
"Will It Waffle?" (Workman Publishing, $14.95)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup mini-chocolate chips
Nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat waffle iron on medium. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric hand mixer until mostly smooth.

2. Add eggs and vanilla; continue beating until they're fully incorporated.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until few streaks of flour remain. Add the oats and chocolate chips and stir to combine.

4. Coat boat sides of the waffle-iron grid with nonstick spray. Place a heaping tablespoon of dough onto each waffle section, allowing room for the cookies to spread.

Close the lid and cook until the cookies are set and beginning to brown. This won't take long - 2 or 3 minutes, depending on the heat of your waffle iron.

(We recommend doing some testing with cooking times. Our first batch burned at 2 minutes but our best batch cooked at just a little over 1 minute.)

 The cookie should be soft when you remove them and will firm up as they cool. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

5. Repeat step 4 until all batter has been waffled. Makes about 20 cookies.

To always have waffle-able cookies on hand, form dough into balls, place them on a tray to freeze and, once frozen, transfer to a zip-top bag. Frozen dough can go right onto the waffle iron (just add another minute to the cooking time.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The playback...a day at the orchard.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but there is so much that these pictures are not saying about our day at the orchard. 

They make no mention of unhappy children who left their electronics behind for a two hour car ride that turned into three. Don't even ask me how long it took for us to drive back home.

This picture doesn't tell you that my husband got up early to go to the grocery store so we could pack sandwiches for a relaxing picnic lunch or that he did all the driving.

This one doesn't show you the acres we walked with empty bags because all the apple trees were already picked or about the boy who kept reminding me again and again that he only ate MacIntosh apples. Where are the MacIntosh??

This photo doesn't tell you that I made Reese go back and pose with these trees after I missed a spontaneous moment. She was shaking hands with leaves because I said they looked like they were waving to us in the breeze.

Did I also mention how she started naming apples - Debbie, Betty and little Tim - and then struggled with the thought of eating them?
I admit, there were a lot of smiling pics because I had a camera and said, "say cheese", but not all the moments were staged.  
My favorite pictures are the ones below. I LOVE the determination in
Reese's eyes below compared with the quiet calm in Ethan's face.
It makes me wonder what each is thinking?
So, yes, we did have some fun at the apple orchard but don't let these pictures fool you. They only tell half the story. There are no pictures of traffic jams or children fighting in the car because really, who wants a photo to remember that? Those moments don't feel good. And besides I have all these other moments that look so shiny and fresh.

At one point, I did catch David checking and picking up a couple of apples off the ground. When I asked him about it, he said, "most people mistake all the apples on the ground as bad but if you look at them, it's not true."
His words got me thinking about our day, the good and the bad. Could I sit with all those uncomfortable moments, those supposed bad apples and be okay with them? I don't need a picture of them for keeps in an album but perhaps a mental picture would do.
We all fall, now and again. Who doesn't need a reminder that maybe some moments, like apples, are not as bad as we think. 

*This post was inspired by my husband, David. Thanks dear for keeping it real. xo
 To follow <our house rules> and receive email updates, add your email on the right side of this page. Thanx, you rule!