best of: 2010


















felt food and tutorials

i had so much fun making felt food for atticus for christmas!  it's not super time-consuming (as far as crafting goes) - and it's so stinkin' cute that the whole process is just really fun.  for some, i used tutorials and others i just looked at pictures and tried my best to replicate them.  the only materials you need are felt, a sewing machine with coordinating thread, coordinating embroidery floss and a needle, and some stuffing (one small/medium stuffed animal yielded PLENTY of stuffing for all of these projects).  and i'm not super great at sewing or crafting, so it doesn't take a ton of skill, just an ability to read directions and use a basic sewing machine.

i made a felt paper bag to put all the food in and hand-stitched the obvious. (click on the links to be taken to the tutorials or examples i used.)

here's all the food i made. (no, i did not make the barilla box - i just put the bowtie pasta i made into it for a little more fun.)

the first food item i made was the banana.  not the greatest - it's pretty pointy and quite obviously hand-stitched by an amateur.  and the peel doesn't cover the whole banana. but atticus knows what it is, and penelope is pretty indiscriminate when it comes to toys (pointy or not, she'll chew on it) so it works.  plus, the banana itself comes out of the peel, which is funny to me.

the pizza was...well...a 'wing it' effort and the most difficult one i made.  i just looked at a picture.  i have copies of the pattern i created for the 'body' of the pizza, if you're interested.

 here's the bowtie pasta.  by far the EASIEST one i made.

again, super easy.  i didn't find a picture for this one, but it's pretty self-explanatory from the picture here.

the bread is pretty wonky.  it was harder than it looked, plus i didn't have the right color of embroidery floss for the edges.  i probably wouldn't make this one again...

unless i just made one more so atticus could make a sandwich. :)

i LOVE how this carrot turned out - and it seriously took like 10 minutes from start to finish.  if even.  (this one actually had a tutorial, which i found made a HUGE difference.  who'd have thought?)

same concept with the strawberries as the carrot - basically the same technique to make them, and i made 4 in probably 5-10 minutes.

um, how funny is this?!

and this is hilarious, too, i think.  and again, took 5 minutes from start to finish.

i had some, ahem, help photographing these.

here are a BUNCH of ideas - some i've already linked to on here, some i want to try yet.

here's a cute idea for popcorn and a chocolate bar that i'll be trying.

and here's some broccoli that might acclimate atticus to the idea of vegetables (like how playing 'doctor' makes it easier for kids to get their real checkups).  here's to hoping.

and here's a whole flickr group with even more ideas (i think i saw a baked potato in there- funny!) although some of these are like felt food made for royalty.  if i spent that much time making a felt cake, there is no way on earth i'd let my kid play with it.  it would go in some kind of glass case in my living room for guests to ogle at.

i'm thinking about making more sometime in the near or distant future - anybody up for a felt-fooding party?

something smells fishy. literally.

i bought a bottle of cod liver oil, and i thought i was being so smart to get the kind in the shatter-proof bottle.  because, let's face it, i'm paige van voorst and it's only a matter of time before i drop it.

and yesterday, i did drop it.  unfortunately, the cap to the bottle was not also shatterproof, and i dumped half of the entire bottle all over my kitchen floor.  so not only did i have to figure out a way to clean all the oil up (wiping with two bath towels then mopping three times with vinegar and soap.  fyi.) but my kitchen smelled like cod liver oil all morning.  the unflavored kind.

so...that was awesome.

life in the fast lane

well, probably not the fast lane...more like 'life on the highway on the outskirts of town...going a comfortable 45 mph.  or so."

whatever.  anyway.

what i meant to say is this: we've been pretty busy around here lately.  not that you probably haven't been as well - it was christmas, after all.  we spent the week gearing up: christmas shopping (i didn't even start shopping until december 13), crafting (i didn't start crafting until december 13, either), baking, wrapping, cleaning, packing, traveling, unpacking and recleaning everything that was clean before we left.  i swear we had really messy, but otherwise innocently-intentioned, intruders while we were gone.  how else does an empty house get THAT messy?

the kids made out like bandits; christmas was good to them.  now it's just a matter of finding homes for all the new stuff...and all the old stuff... i really am a 'less is more' kind of gal, so i've been feeling a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of it all, but atticus has seemed to adjusted well enough to having so many new toys.  what a trooper.

in addition to all our regular christmas hullabaloo, we've also started mixing our diet up a bit.  i'm experimenting with a grain-free diet to see if that will help alleviate some chronic health issues (and let me tell you, christmas was an awesome time to stop eating flour) and i've stopped breastfeeding. 

penelope is now 100% bottlefed, which is bittersweet after fighting so hard for the last 4 months, but she really seems to be thriving on it.  i was planning on making my own whole-foods formula for her, but until i could pull all the ingredients together i figured i'd just use the powdered kind in the meantime.  she had a HORRIBLE time with it - it really upset her stomach.  (todd sat through the christmas eve service completely covered in her diarrhea.  awesome.) since then, i've started making our formula from scratch and it sits SO. MUCH. BETTER.  i'm really happy with how well she seems to be doing on it - AND, as an added bonus, it's actually cheaper than the walmart brand!  starting penelope off on the right foot - whole foods and CHEAP is how we try to do things around here.

so all that to say, our christmas season was busy - too busy for my liking, really.  we're already in discussions for how to cut out the busy-ness next season so we can truly focus on the first coming of christ, and eagerly anticipate his second coming.  so, to buy back some of the focus i lost during the season, i have refused to do what i do best - move on to the next thing.  all my christmas decorations are still up - and will be for a while.  i have not planned my new years resolutions (okay, i have not written them down, which counts). i have not planned my spring cleaning.  i am in love with jesus and i'm letting that be it.  and it's enough for me right now.  which is a great feeling.

how are you feeling after the holidays?

'member that time?

hey, 'member that time lauren's friend said she was going to have a zach braff marathon? and 'member how i was all like, 'oh my word! i love high school musical!' and 'member how then i remembered zach efron....

then 'member how a 19-year-old girl made me feel like i was some kind of walking mummy, all ancient and with my disgusting ancient organs in disgusting ancient jars, but somehow still trying to be all i'm young i swear?

and for the record, i really do like high school musical and for the record, zach braff is awesome as the voice of the brita water filter.  all health-conscious and stuff but still youthfully sarcastic.  if he was a walking mummy, people wouldn't so much hold it against him that his organs were all outside his carcass because he'd probably still have his hair and i feel like if my hair was better people would be quicker to forgive me too.

you probably won't want to be my friend after this.

i'm making felt food for atticus for christmas, and i needed some stuffing to fill the banana with.  instead of buying some from hobby lobby, i just decided to cut open a goodwill-bound stuffed animal and use its innards.  the whole time i felt so guilty and dirty.  it was like that little guy was looking up at me all like, noooooooo.  i'll probably see that in my sleep from now until, i don't know, judgment day.

merry christmas, atticus.  your mommy is probably some kind of sociopath.

'member that time?

hey, 'member that time i was taking a bath and i opened the bathroom door to find a pet mouse just for me?  only 'member how he was all shaky and foamy, and how my mom was all like, that mouse is sick don't touch it?  and 'member how she used that as an object lesson for me to never touch or eat mouse poison?

i miss my pet mouse.  also, merry christmas.

the christmas tree: the brawny man of trees.

the other day i was listening to the radio - you know, the station that plays christmas music for 3 months out of the year and the rest of the year plays a lot of mariah carey and air supply - and i heard the song, 'it's beginning to look a lot like christmas.'

now, i can be somewhat particular about christmas music (is anyone else entirely creeped out by 'baby it's cold outside'?  and does anyone else get an itchy trigger finger when they play 'the christmas shoes'?  no? just me then?)  but i've never had much of an aversion to this song - until i heard it with new ears.  did you know there's a line in there that goes, "there's a tree in the grand hotel, one in the park as well, the sturdy kind that doesn't mind the snow"?

uh... you mean the sturdy kind of tree that doesn't mind... being outside?

you're right. i hate those stupid wuss trees that sit inside all day when it's cold, and when they have to go outside (because smoking's not allowed in their apartment) they stand there and smoke their cigs and drink whiskey and cuss at the snow.  those trees are the worst.

some thoughts on the season

for many reasons, our family has decided not to incorporate santa into our christmas celebrations.  this has been a personal decision for us and definitely not one that we would prescribe as the best for everyone; it just makes sense for our family.

for me, the most compelling reasons to sidestep santa include the fact that santa (in theory more than practice) comes to kids who 'earn' his gifts by being good, and that he very rarely comes to poor families.  essentially, santa rewards decent, affluent kids and overlooks those who are needy, weak and disadvantaged.  this is the opposite of god's heart for us!

to further confuse things, i think it's difficult for kids to fully separate a kindly, fatherly, omnipresent, invisible, gift-giving santa from a truly loving, omnipotent, invisible Father who sends good gifts from sounds like kind of the same thing to me, too, so i can't really blame them.  the problem is what i mentioned above - that the character and heart of god toward us as children is entirely separate from the motivation of santa, but because of our society's spotlight on santa at this time of year, the true character of god can get overlooked or wrongly imposed upon.

so, all that to say, we're baby-stepping our way to trying to understand and fully celebrate the true heart of the season.  we're by no means perfect at it, nor do we presume that our way is the only right way.  but i would like to share with you one avenue we're pursuing as a family to get closer to the heart of god this advent and christmas season.

we have decided to start a family tradition of using part of our gift-giving fund for one another to buy items from the world vision catalog.  there are so many different ways you can include others around the world in your personal christmas celebration this year!!  from seeds and farm animals, to education for women, to orphan care, to houses for single mothers and their's almost hard to limit yourself from wanting to buy everything in there!

in addition, in order to provide something tangible for our kids to open, as well as a reminder of what all we've given in years past (god in his word is constantly telling us to remember his work in our lives), we've purchased handmade ornaments from the local fair trade shop.  not only does this gift help someone else by providing them a fair wage for their work, but it will help us remember every year god's work in the life of our family as we have the opportunity to unwrap each ornament and hang it on the tree.  plus, can i just say they look awesome?

i tried to pick gifts from the catalog that correspond with our personal interests or life stages.  for todd, who really loves digging into god's word, we gave children bibles in their own language.  for atticus, we donated soccer balls to schools in africa because, well, atticus likes soccer balls.  for penelope, we gave care for an orphan because every single day i am so grateful that i am getting to see her grow.  and for me, todd chose to donate chickens because there are a few things that are pretty set in my mind as something i'd like to have someday, and chickens make that list.  (i'm a pretty simple gal like that.)
i don't say all this because i'm trying to gain anything from it; i'm just saying that there are so many personal ways you can give to others that provide a radical blessing to them and their families.  you can participate in the heart of god!  and that's really what christmas is all about - an invitation to join in god's mission of coming to give himself away for us.

'member that time?

hey, 'member that time my sister and i got pet hamsters and how they swelled up like balloons and then died?  and 'member how it was wintertime so my mom decided to try to cremate them in a metal toolbox but seriously underestimated just how hot a hamster skeleton has to get in order to disintegrate?  so then 'member how we had to find a place to keep their charred little bodies until springtime so we could bury them?

it was a beautiful ceremony and not at all scarring for an 11-year-old child.


so i've spent all of naptime looking at online renovation tutorials, dreaming about the cutesy little old-house (read: poorly insulated fire hazard with beautiful baseboards) we could possibly own someday.  and how i'll turn some dilapidated old crapshack into a BHG spread in under $100 with just a little know-how and some positive self-talk.

but then i realize that i've spent the last two hours perusing online tutorials rather than actually doing anything productive.  and not only that, but i poured myself a glass of milk like an hour ago to drink with my oreos (who am i kidding - my aldi's brand chocolate waves) and, lo and behold, i haven't actually had any of it yet because i've been too lazy to open the oreos waves. 

that's some pretty serious laziness.  i think there's a proverb about a sluggard who reaches his hand into the dish, but he's too stinking lazy to even bring the food to his mouth.  yep, king solomon was peering into the future going, 'what is a chocolate wave? oh well, i'll write about it anyway.'

so yeah right like i'm going to beadboard my bathroom ceiling at any point.

i don't know what my deal has been lately.  i have been entirely unmotivated to do anything at all.  i have not purchased a single christmas gift.  and considering i'm too lazy to actually go out and buy anything and will instead do it from my computer in the comfort of my own bathrobe, i really need to get on this because the u.s. mail system is not magic.  (in fact, it's probably the antonym of 'magic' if you look it up online.  someone do that for me, i don't feel like it.)  i have to actually give them time to get stuff to me.  and then i have to find the time and ambition to wrap it...

maybe i could give people an uplifting blog post in their honor as a christmas gift.  if only i had stupid friends who would think that was an awesome gift. that it's four p.m. i better lay off the chocolate waves and get myself some lunch.

this reminds me of my sister.

this reminds me of my sister....but only because she showed this to me and not for any other reason.

i think lauren may have some bangs to donate to cover up that fivehead.

'member that time?

hey, 'member that time i went to a christmas party for my dad's company and they had a santa there and a bunch of presents?  and 'member how my name was called first to sit on santa's lap, but instead i high-tailed it to pick out the best present?  and 'member how he asked me what i wanted for christmas, but i thought it seemed pretty obvious that what i wanted was that awesome present i had already picked out?  and 'member how inside was a makeup kit that allowed me to do this to myself and my scare-ified sister:

how much of lauren's hair is bangs?  i'm guesstimating right around the 60% mark.   

two years and too sweet.


i can't believe i'm a two-year-old's mom...i swear i'm still cool at this age, although when you're old enough to read this i'll probably be wearing some kind of denim pantsuit and saying "eh" at the end of every sentence.  you know, after the real person inside of me dies and i'm just a mom. 

anyway, i could just gobble you up.  you're the sweetest two-year-old i've ever laid eyes on, bar none.  here's just a smattering of the things i love about you:

*i love how innocently you say 'no' right now.  it really hasn't occurred to you yet to use this word to be defiant, you're just straight-to-the-point with it.  (ex., should we change your pants? no.)

*i love how much you love your sister.  you love making funny faces at her and dancing with her and kissing her and helping me take care of her.

*i love how you love tractors and trucks and trains (and all things that go), but you've also recently adopted a 'baby' that you rock, read to, feed, bathe, and put to bed.  you're so gentle - you're going to make a great daddy someday!

*i love that you love to pretend - sometimes you're an animal, sometimes a baby, sometimes an onion.  and i love how, regardless of whatever character you're being, all you do is crawl around on all fours making noise and eating imaginary treats out of my hand.  (uncanny onion impression, by the way.)

*i love how you like to see what i'm cooking, and to watch, and to help stir.  i love that you insist on having the oven light on so you can keep an eye on things.  i love that you pretend to cook eggs, cheese, noodles and soup.

*i love when you're a stinker and steal penelope's nuk and toys for your own intents and purposes.  but i don't let on how much i love it because, let's face it, it's kind of naughty.

*i love that when we try to teach you catechism and ask who made you, hoping you'll say 'god', you say 'mama.'

*i love when you lay down, face down, on the floor and cry until you can't remember why you're mad.

*i love that you like to watch yo gabba gabba sometimes, but you call it 'wuhwuhwuh.'

*i love when you stand on your tippy toes and rummage through the tiny opening in the silverware drawer that the child lock allows, trying to get baby spoons to play with.

*i love when we catch you doing something you know you shouldn't be doing and you flash a smile and just say, "hi!" all casual-like.

*i LOVE your dance moves! you can raise the roof, shake your booty, and play the air guitar like nobody's business.

*i love it when you say "epic" and even do the flame with your fingers.

*i love that when you're fighting sleep, you kick your crib and tell yourself jokes - which are apparently also hysterically funny.  maybe you should start a blog.

*i love when you 'exercise' with daddy and do push-ups, leg-lifts and crunches.

*i love that you like to wear your old man hat to the grocery store.

*i love that you don't like me to touch the shopping cart...and haven't yet figured out that i'm actually the one making it go.

*i love that you peek out behind the baby shade in the car and make faces at the people sitting next to us at the stop light.

*i love when you sing "oooooo" - and "heyyyyyyyy" from 'hey soul sister.'

*i love that, when daddy chases you around the kitchen, you run around the table saying, 'oh no! oh no!"

*i love that your favorite foods are muhnuhs and noos and peeta (bananas and noodles and pizza).

*i love that you're suffering posttraumatic stress from falling out of your booster seat and hitting your chin, so you point to your chin multiple times a day and say, "owww. seat. fall."  even though that happened like two months ago.

*i love that you call yourself  'a-TEE' and penelope 'puh-PEE.'

*i love that you hate having your teeth brushed. but how, if i call them your 'PUPPY teeth,' you're more than happy to let me brush them because that's what puppies do.

*i love that 'airplane,' 'elephant,' and 'amen' all sound the same - ah-PEE.

*i love that the second you get out of your crib in the morning, you run over to penelope's crib to say good morning.

*i love that you could stare at pictures of toys in catalogs for hours on end and don't realize that you're missing out on actually HAVING the toys - just looking at the pictures is enough for you right now.

i love you so much and i'm so thankful i get to be your mama!!!!

thwr: sounds like the makings of a dumpy party

todd: do you have any ideas for atticus' birthday party?

paige: not really; you?

todd: no.  well, maybe.  we could decorate with a bunch of turds and be all like, "number two."  what do you think?

homemade...yogurt? (ho-gurt?)

yes, i know it sounds gross, but hear me out.  it's way cheaper than buying it from the store, plus it doesn't contain all those gross, fake ingredients that flavored yogurts have.  you can always add berries, or honey and cinnamon, or vanilla, etc. for flavoring later.  plus, it's ridiculously easy, requires no special equipment (other than a crock pot), and turns you into the crazy lady who makes her own yogurt.

yogurt is way good for you.  it contains a bunch of probiotics for digestion, and has a really high protein content.  because it's fermented, it's easier for people with dairy issues to process.  and little kids love it.

are you ready for this?


4 c. milk (i recommend whole or 3.5 cups of skim milk and 1/2 cup of cream to avoid homogenization)
1/4 c. plain yogurt (either store-bought or leftover from a previous yogurt batch.* i recommend dannon all-natural, full-fat yogurt.)
1 packet plain gelatin (NOT jell-o. found in baking aisle at fareway.) - see update
1/4 c. powdered milk (optional) - see update


1. put milk in crock pot and turn on "low."  leave for three hours.

2. unplug crock pot and leave for two and a half hours.

3. place yogurt in small mixing bowl, whisk 1 c. warm milk into it.  whisk in gelatin and powdered milk, if using.  pour all back into the rest of the milk in the crock pot and mix.

4. wrap unplugged crock pot in a towel and leave eight hours or overnight.  the longer you leave it, the "tangier" it will be.

5. put in container in the fridge to stop "yogurting" process and to let it set.  avoid messing with it (stirring, pouring, etc.) too much or it will get runny.

that's it. pretty hands-off, which i love.  goes great with cereal, fruit, and even as sour cream in things like chili.

*keep 1/4 c. back and freeze for use in next batch.  the more each batch is paid forward, though, the weaker the good bacteria in the yogurt becomes.  if you notice it being runnier than usual, start over with fresh yogurt from the store.

**UPDATE: scrap the gelatin and dried milk powder.  just stick your starter in a coffee filter-lined strainer for a few hours or overnight so the starter gets really thick (almost like cream cheese).  mixing this in will give your yogurt the perfect consistency.


1. the powdered milk and gelatin give it more consistency.  i've made yogurt without using these and it was REALLY runny - good for eating on cereal or using as a yogurt drink, but not easy to eat with a spoon!

2. i freeze leftover yogurt in an ice cube tray and use three cubes' worth per new batch.

3. don't let a kid eat as much yogurt as they want - it will give them a SERIOUS case of the runs.  believe me.