Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm not gonna try it, YOU try it

My kids are picky eaters. We usually offer 2 choices for each meal at our house: Take it or Leave it. Most of the time they leave it.

At a Christmas party last weekend, they had steamed oysters on the half shell. I don't know if they sound exotic to them or what, but my kids are intrigued by food that comes in a shell and they really, really want to like it.

"Yeah I'll try one!"

"Um yeah, I'll have one too!"

"What? Oh yeah, I love oysters, I eat them all the time"

"Dear God, Please help me choke this down. Amen"

"Oh yeah, this is GOOD!"

Chewing and chewing and chewing.
"Wait a minute, I'm not feeling too good. Things are feeling kinda fuzzy"

"Why oh why did I do THAT?!"

"Drinks, lots and lots of things to drink! Keep 'em coming!"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 Teacher Christmas Gifts

Every year I make homemade gifts for the kid's teachers because I don't want to spend over $10 per gift but want to give something a little more meaningful than a $10 gift I could buy. This year I decided to make soap with coordinating boxes. In the middle of the project Jason asked me if I ever thought of just going out to buy a gift? My reply was "No" but I can't say it didn't cross my mind a few times!! I'm glad I went through with it anyway because they were a huge hit!

The first thing we did was paint the boxes. We came up with a color theme and then ended up with 4 different patterns.

Next we made the soap in a matching color scheme and similar patterns. Everybody had a job. JW chopped and weighed the soap, Casey monitored the temperature, I was the designer and poured the soap, Jason unmolded and sliced the soap.

Both soaps were "loaf" soaps that are made in a long loaf mold and then are sliced into individual bars. We used goat's milk soap (white) and glycerin(clear) soap. Both 100% natural with many healthful moisturizing benefits to the skin. We also used essential oils of Cucumber/Green Tea and Tangerine, both considered soothing and relaxing scents. Essential oils are 100% natural made only from things found in nature.

The first soap was a checkerboard pattern. I wasn't sure if this one was going to work, but it turned out great!

The 2nd soap was a polka dot pattern. The way it was sliced created different polka dots on each side in most cases. I had a hard time figuring out how to prop up my circles of soap in the loaf mold, but I finally figured it out by using half circles on the bottom.

The front of one soap:

The back of the same soap:

Matching themes:

Six soaps fit in each box which totaled about 2.5 pounds of soap. Handmade soap like this sells for 75 cents to $1 per ounce. Six of these bars are worth over $30 and I came in under my budget in material costs.

The finished product all boxed up. I chose these boxes because they have the open tops to let out the soap's wonderful scents.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas in London

On the way home from our trip to the mountains to get our tree, my family dropped me off at the airport for an overnight flight to the UK for a business trip. I stayed in central London so on my last night there I went out to see London at Christmas for the first time and do a little shopping.

I headed out to the National Science Museum first which was just a few blocks from my hotel. I wanted to check out their shop for some good science gifts for the kids.

Here is a shot of the ice skating rink outside of the National History Museum. The Museum is the building in the background.

Harrod's was a short walk from the Science museum. It was all lit up and beautiful. A full city block of lights.

They had a Wizard of Oz theme in their storefront windows.

I snapped a few pictures inside. They have 4 floors of very expensive items...and have a Krispy Kreme on their food floor.

This is the Pet Fashion department.

I then caught the Underground "tube" over to Picadilly Circus to see the lights on Regent and Oxford Street.

The lights were beautiful.

I finally found Hamley's, an awesome 4 story toy store. I spent way too much money in there. They have sales people throughout the store doing demo's of toys. They convinced me to buy some fake snow (which is really cool) and a brush guaranteed not to hurt for 12 pounds (~$19). That brush is worth it's weight in gold. It brushes through Casey's hair in just a few strokes with no crying or pain. It is only available in the UK and it's called a Tangle Teezer

I was pretty much exhausted at this point, but decided to head over to the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. It was kind of a Winter Festival fair type deal.

One of the first things to greet me was a moose singing Christmas carols with some fake snow. He was pretty good.

I loved seeing all of the different kinds of food vendors. This was a Crepe vendor.

A fish and chips place and a coffee and tea shop.

There were a lot of German food vendors. You can see the rides in the background. My co-workers kept mentioning a "big wheel" at Winter Wonderland, I wasn't sure what they were talking about until I got there and saw the ferris wheel.

Chestnuts roasting.

I drug myself back to the hotel and could barely take another step and my arms were sore from carrying around bags of stuff. It was worth it to see London at Christmas (and get an almost $20 magic brush).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods, Part 2

The Thrill of the Hunt

On Day 2 of our trip to the mountains to get our Christmas tree we woke up and headed out to the tree farm. The scenery on the way there was beautiful with snow covering the hillsides. It was 27 degrees so we bundled up in our coveralls and snow boots.

We piled into a hay wagon for the hay ride to the tree location.

Up the mountain we went.

Over the mountain and then down the other side.

Our hunting territory was filled with hunters with long sticks used to measure their prey.

Off we went on our hunt.

We found a good one right at the start but passed it up for more hunting, which is the fun part.
But after quite a bit of searching we decided to return to this tree, only to find it being cut down by other hunters.

We finally found another good one and posed for the required photo shoots in front of it.

One of the best parts is watching daddy struggle to carry the tree. I was fumbling with my gloves to take the picture, screaming "Hold it! Hold it!" "Don't move!" Daddy's love that.

While we waited for the tractor to come pick us up we posed for a family shot.

J.W. was a big help getting the tree to the car.

We got out of there just as all of that frozen mud started to thaw, just in the nick of time.

All in all it was a very successful hunt. The best part is that each time I look at the tree in our living room I'm reminded of our wonderful trip to the mountains.